Monday, March 23, 2009

Have You Ever Done Something Right?

I've made a lot of mistakes in my lifetime but once in a while I've done something right. For instance, I contributed something special to our back yard seventy years ago. I planted trees. Lots of them. And I had dreams at that time of becoming a forest ranger.

Well, I never became a forest ranger but I continue to love a forest environment. That's why I enjoy our nearby Huron National Forest so much. The picture above is not local, here in Michigan, but is a picture taken in the sixties of the yard surrounding the house I lived in in the late 1930's to the mid '40's. Nothing special about the picture -- a pretty location with one of New York's famous trout streams out back. I loved living there and I relish going back from time to time.

When my father bought the house and 40 acres of land for 2 and a half thousand dollars there were trashy old buildings in the back yard - pig pens - chicken coops - and a lot of trash.
There was a barn with a sway-back roof that we were sure would cave in at the first snowfall.
A year of hard work cleared the area and it was beginning to look very attractive. Except for a worn-out hillside pasture on the other side of the stream. That's where the trees fit in.

I got involved in a 4-H club and thought about different projects. My brother eventually excelled in dairy raising Jersey milk cows. I didn't like cleaning up after chickens - I didn't like the work involved in raising a garden - and forestry sounded great. One day I attended a forestry meeting and came home with 500 Scotch Pine seedlings and 500 Norway Spruce. (If the truth be known, it was probably more like 250 of each but, hey, even 500 seedlings were a lot of trees for an 11 year old.)

At any rate, my project was to plant all of those seedlings on the worn out hillside across the stream from the house. A lot were "heeled in" to keep them alive, but every day I would load some in a bucket of water and with a mattock I'd make a hole on the soil and plant the trees one by one. It took a lot of time but every one of those seedling trees went into the ground.

I didn't think much about them at the time - I was just glad to see them all planted. But as the picture shows, there are a lot of trees growing on the other side of the creek, and that picture was taken thirty or forty years ago. You ought to see the trees now, and that hillside has become a much larger area - a huge 70-year old forest. I look at it whenever I get back that way and think to myself, "At least once I made one lasting impression on the world" And I feel an inner sense of peace that all the work by a little kid wasn't a wasted effort at all.

No, I never did become a forest ranger, but I still love the world about me - especially the
beauty of forests and countryside.

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