Family Personal

Call Me a Tree-Hugger | Bad News for Ms. Elm

Call me a tree-hugger, and you would be right. Last week I lopped off a branch from my 50-year-old elm tree and took it to the Pulaski County Cooperative Extension office. A few years back, I noticed spots on Ms. Elm’s leaves and wanted to find out how to treat it.

The county arborist didn’t need to send it to the lab. He took one look at the spotted bough, then lowered the boom. He diagnosed it as Dutch Elm disease. Fatal. Life expectancy to-be-determined.

I went to the car and cried. I thought of Shel Silverstein’s children’s book, The Giving Tree, and cried more. So many memories.

A Member of the Family

Thirteen years ago, when my granddaughter was born, we purchased the vacant lot next door to The Big House (that is the name we’ve given our family home). As we cleaned and mowed the newly acquired lot, we thought to create a play area under the big elm tree that stood right in the middle of the property. It became my summer project.

Following the tree line, I hand placed a short, rock wall boarder. Next, I bought several pickup truck loads of sand and dirt, which my sons dutifully shoveled out. I topped this new, leveled dirt base with tiny pebbles and some natural steppingstones. Lastly, we added a small sand box, a bench and some children’s lawn furniture. We named it Evy’s Garden after my granddaughter, Evelyn.

Today, the playing under Ms. Elm has changed. Last year her branches were strung with lights for my son’s outdoor wedding party. And just last week, as I sat on my front porch, I was aware of her friendly leaves waving and spreading the cool morning air like tiny fans.  I watched and listened as the red birds jostled for position amongst her branches and openly avowed my thanks to her.

A Miracle Cure

Since the bad news, I have been morose. I am a problem solver, but this one…well, forgive the pun…has me stumped. My son, studying for his PhD in horticulture, sends me some reads. The words are not encouraging.

I try to think. And then I remember there are many unexplained miracles and cures that happen every day. If there’s no scientific cure, then it is time to move to plan B–a miracle.

Though Ms. Elm’s prognosis may look dismal, never-the-less, she will live through my hope, faith, prayer, rituals and just plain ole tree-hugging. Every day, I pledge to go out and literally hug that tree and tell her she is going to be okay. Don’t worry, Ms. Elm … together we got this … I believe in miracles.