Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dad's Trees

I wonder if children who are raised next to a creek understand their luck. The creek bottom was such a part of our lives. Our cattle grazed there as did the sheep. My horse and I raced down the back lane to the creek. Before they dredged the creek, we could sit on the banks and fish. Crawdads were there for the catching. Turtles were captured and released. Frogs sang to us as we sat by the side of the creek just finding a place to be alone.

Dad built his barn from the lumber in the creek bottom, thus clearing the area for his livestock. The lumber mill had been set up there close enough that the horses could pull the lumber up to the construction site. We sat under the trees when we worked in the fields eating the lunches mother brought to us much as those builders had done long before.

When I was a kid, Dad decided to have a section of the creek bottom planted with slow growing hardwood trees. The boy scout troop came with shovels and buckets of saplings. Before long the hillside was covered with baby trees.

I think Dad planted the trees for his daughters. Their hope, I think, had been that one of us would cut the trees and build a house in that location. If no house, the trees would still be quite a financial asset for his kids.
My oldest sister and I both talked about the possibility. Her life moved away from Ohio. I had hoped to stay closer to home but my journey west started in Wisconsin.

Dad and Mom's three girls walked together to the creek each time they returned to the farm. We watched the trees grow straight and tall. Dad's vision had provided a home for wildlife and wild flowers and his children and grandchildren's memories.

He was a man before his time. He realized the importance of trees. He realized the heritage those trees could give to his daughters. We did not cut those trees or build a house, but we came away knowing that Dad was an environmentalist and taught his daughters to be the same.

Thanks, Dad.

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