Saturday, January 24, 2009


Old Trunks is looking out the east window at a knarled elm tree across the street. It is a big tree which looks like it was shaped by strange events. How could it be so twisted? How could a branch separate and form a bowl-like shape, then continue on to have fingerlings going every which a way. Another elm stands near; it is straight with no curves or twists. Was the big tree planted in the early twenties when this neighborhood was built? Honest, as I pan the horizon, it is the only one with such a unique shape. Do you know the history of the trees on your property? We do know the cedars at the Anderson home in Rosewood were planted as seedlings by Gust Opseth.

It was Mother’s Day in 1976 when Rachel and Bud presented me with a silver maple tree. The promise was to water it faithfully after it was planted by the side walk to the porch next to the drive way. In the summer, it would shade the picture window in the living room from the southern sun. It was named Twilight; it was planted in the early evening. Silver maples, as you may know, are fast growing soft wood trees. Although the top third was pruned at planting time to force the root system, it grew much that first year.

Two other trees were offered as gifts; one was a flowering plum tree. Each spring, it was covered with white blossoms followed by purple-red leaves and berries the blue jays liked to eat. That tree was in front of the smallest bedroom window and blocked the sun from the east. The third tree, a Sweet Gum, which was zoned for farther south, rounded out the triangle. Professor Plum deceased from bores and the Sweet Gum did not survive but a few winters, While on the deck, one was shaded from the Kansas sun except at high noon.

As I flipped through the images of Twilight, I remember as it grew, it became a back drop of leaves for pictures as did the others, especially for those historic first day of school pictures. When Rachel graduated from ninth grade, she is holding one of the branches of Twilight, the tree was then eight years old. Bud’s ninth grade recognition uses Professor Plum as a back drop as he stands on the mini deck on the front of the house. Ryen is noted on the rail of the deck with bare branched Twilight behind him when we took pictures to use on the Internet. [[Take picture, process film, bring pictures to Kinko’s for scanning and put on 3 ½ floppy, insert in computer]].

There was one branch Bud was particularly fond of. It was his swing branch. When a big wind came and twisted the branches, it was because of him we sawed the swing branch back to healthy and painted the end to keep the sap from running. That same branch became the place to hang his newspaper delivery bag.
Two other storms would hit that tree, the second appeared to be lightening. Yet, with the help of a neighbor who knew all about trees and plants, we managed to save it by topping it which forced more branches below the cut. When Ryen and I healed the house in a buy back, Twilight was there. When we sold the house and I moved to Fargo, it was there.

The other trees in the yard were not named. We bought 100 bare root elms which fit into the mail box when they arrived. They were to be a hedge row on the back and side property line. Concerned some may die, they were planted two in a hole. The holes were dug with a post hole digger, the bare root had been soaked in Miracle Grow© before planting. After a silly fight with the neighbors, the shrubs, now very well rooted in a natural run off, were allowed to grow. We did not loose any of the bare roots. They all grew and towered the one story house. On Easter Sunday one year, we actually watched the buds turn into leaves. They were not culled out. The trees, thirty years old at buy back, were still there, some stunted because they had no room to grow as a separate tree.

At the time when people were homesteading, they planted trees for wind breaks. We had a wind break alright both of on the north and on the south. It wasn’t like Great Uncle Gust getting cedar seedlings but they were, at least, trees.


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