Planting Trees and Taking Root

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Happy Arbor Day! Did you plant a tree today?


33 years ago today, I planted this ponderosa pine. I was so excited to bring this seedling home. I was 10 years old. My parents had just split up the previous summer and we lived with my grandparents. Although, we didn’t always plant a tree on Arbor Day, because I did plant many as a child. We planted trees for the Challenger victims one year, for instance.

Anyways, trees were a big deal in our family. My dad at the time worked in Forestry and was a wildland firefighter. Every time we’d go to the hills would be a test.

“What is this tree?” My dad would ask holding needles that are about 4 inches long with 3 needles sheathed together, that he just plucked. “Ponderosa Pine!” Us three kids would exclaim. “Right!”

Pointing (with his lips mind you) to a small Christmas tree looking tree... “Douglas fir” we said again unanimously.

“Right! What about that one?” Pointing (again with his lips) to a grand tree with a floppy top. “Western Hemlock!” I was always the first to exclaim. How many lodge pole pine needles per sheath?” He then would then ask. “2” Lynn would always yell out first. My dad would always point out how on the forest service side of the hills you will see mass clear cuts. Yet, on the reservation side we do selective cutting and we replant. So, it never looks bare. So, I knew at a young age the importance of caring for not just our environment but our ecosystems. So, you see I just had to plant that tree.

That brings me back to my parents are split up and we live with my grandparents. My mom’s parents. My Grandma Rose was a secretary at a Insurance agency in Toppenish. My Grandpa Newton Humphrey Harris, now that’s a name, enit? Haha anyways was a legit farmer and because my mom worked and was going to college. He got the honor of being home with us.

So, there I was holding this seedling in my hand, that I received at school for Arbor Day, the bottom wrapped with wet paper towel and Saran Wrap. “Can I plant it?” Holding it out in my hands for my Grandpa to see. He had a strange look on is face, probably why is the child who have to fight tooth and nail to pull weeds wants to plant this seedling? Well, his face showed he wasn’t going to ponder over it too long. “Ok” he said. “Let’s find a spot.”

I followed my grandpa Newt out side. He always smelled of Earth, not dirt, Earth. This is probably due to he was arms deep in his garden and he never showered, like once a week at most. He always had on baggy khaki pants and a flannel shirt. Still the outfit of famworkers everywhere. I followed him to the edge of the garden. “You can plant it here” he said pointing (with his finger mind you). “The garden hose doesn’t reach out here so you’re going to have to fill up buckets to water it. You have to water it everyday.” “I will”. I told him with a pure heart and I did. It later earned the name of Charlie Brown because it looked exactly like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Now I can see it needs a new name. As you can see, big things do grow from tiny seeds.

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