It started with a raffle ticket bought at the Land Conservancy fund raiser and a big win. Before my Mom and I knew it we were the proud owners of a Burr Oak. Historically known as a magnificent slow growing tree protected by spirit and against all odds spared from farmers clearing their land to create space needed to make an honest living. These trees can grow up to one hundred and thirty feet tall and live four hundred years, carrying the stories of the land with them. Through time, the human soul has shown the inability to butcher such beauty, even in the name of farming and survival.
In spite the Burr Oaks noble history, I had a few reservations. I had already known the exhaustion of attempting to keep newly planted trees alive through long dry and hot summers. When we picked our raffle tree up it was no more than a mere three-foot twig and I could feel the weight of responsibility…..the weight of something else in my life to protect and keep alive. Was this raffle win a gift or a curse?
It was a wickedly cold fall day where the chill left your bones aching, when my Mom and Neighbor Bob showed up. We pulled out our lunch of bagels and cheese to discuss the pending strategy. Where to plant this tree that would, if all went as planned, be standing long beyond the cumulative years the three of us had left on this planet and longer then our cumulative years spent on this planet. It was a big decision but in the end it was not a big decision. We sort of spun in circles looking at the landscape, angles of the barn and the other trees and plunked it down. “This looks good” and we all agreed!
We began to dig and once the hole was large enough, Mom and I deferred to the tree planter expert, Bob the Neighbor. He carefully separated the container from the tree and then wiggled his fingers into the mass of roots. He explained that the roots needed to untangle and loosen from each other so that they could spread into the earth with ease. We then gently lowered the Burr Oak into its new and forever home. Six hands gently pushed mushroom compost and earth around the base of the tree, filing the hole, while taking great care in protecting the root crown. Bob kept us on task and the instructions clear.
All that was left was to name the tree and that was easy. Bob the neighbor went into a story partially in his head and partially out loud…I remember….….when I was young..…..Bobby was what she called me. And so we named the tree Bobby.
Doubt gave way to the genuine truth and I knew that the stories of our land would be carried with Bobby and the memories would continue to dance in my head and remind me that Bobby the tree truly was a gift.