Nyssa Sylvatica

Happy Earth Day! We’ve been in the house exactly one year today. Well a year and a day but I use Earth Day as our house anniversary as it’s the first full day we were here. I am exhausted having celebrated today by planting trees.

Our new trees were delivered today, about mid-morning. We didn’t waste any time spreading them out, taking each to its new location per the stakes we laid out yesterday. One unique find while running around the yard was a dead mole that my oldest son discovered. It was over by the garage path. A lot of things die over there, a turtle last year for example.  The mole looked like it was sleeping but it never moved all day so I don’t think it was just sleeping. I took a picture. My wheel barrow and I went past him all day long. I got to thinking, mole fur looks really, really soft. I did not reach down to find out though. Maybe tomorrow.

I would come up with something monumental to write today in honor of Earth Day but as usual when I work outside all day, I’m just too tired. Generally speaking it was just another day. I did apply to a job, which was so involved that it took easily an hour to fill out the application. Other than that it was pretty much me in the yard, digging holes, hauling soil and mulch, and generally wondering if I was going to pass out from exhaustion at some point.

As for the trees, I examined the planting sites and started in on the first one before lunch; the sun warming me up on what turned out to be a beautiful day to be outside (and alive….sorry mole). I planted five black gum trees (Nyssa Sylvatica aka tupelo trees) per our landscape plan.  Black gum trees, native throughout Ohio, are known for their spectacular fall color. They grow to be over 60′ tall and are one of the oldest living trees in the Eastern US, living upwards of 650 years.  That’s kinda cool from an immortality standpoint, the five little trees I put in the ground today, might actually be there in the year 2500 A.D. Birds love their berries in the early fall. And bees love making honey from these black tupelo trees. Did we mention we’re waiting for our bees?

Also, for giggles, we picked up, and I planted, a river birch tree (Betula Nigra). This multi trunk tree is native to much of the Eastern U.S. In Ohio its native mostly down south or along Lake Erie, but you’ll find it in everyone’s front yard if you drive through a cookie cutter suburban sprawl neighborhood.  We just happen to like birch trees. There isn’t one on our plan but who cares, sometimes we go off plan.  Christine says she likes it because it is like a little touch of “us” on the land.  You have these big woods and meadows and then a little baby river birch plopped down in there.  It makes us smile.

I assessed the first planting spot for my black gum and noticed two trees in the way. Any sane person would have cut ’em down, as one was a thorny scrub brush looking tree and the other was just a 1.5″ caliper tree about the size of the tupelo tree I was about to plant. Well it being Earth Day and me being certifiably insane I transplanted both of them. We had success transplanting trees last year when we clearing the playset area out.  So I figured it was getting to be old hat for me to do so.  Boy is it back-breaking work.  My nephew transplanted a couple larger trees last year; man I could have used that dude today.  By lunch I was dry heaving as I pulled the last one out of the ground.  The wife and I could barely lift it out of the hole. I planted them both over at the edge of the south meadow. First the skinny tree, I think it’s an ash, or oak tree. Then I transplanted the thorny tree. Finally I planted the river birch nearby as well. Note in all of these tree planting spots I used the trimmer to cut away the meadow grass and I laid down some mulch. I’ll plan on maintaining these areas at least until all the trees and transplants are established.

Next on the list were the five black gum trees.  Boy oh boy I was exhausted beyond belief by time I got done.  I had to haul a ton of top soil back there, often running the wheel barrow through soggy, wet, muddy grass since a swale runs through that area. I just laid down on the couch and mentally cried to myself when I was done late this afternoon.  My eye sockets even hurt, that’s how sore my whole body was.

So in total, on this Earth Day, I planted six new trees and transplanted two others.  Not to bad, that should take some CO2 out of the atmosphere and provide some habitat for mama bird and her baby birds.

Look we all don’t necessarily have the time, interest or know how to make sure the planet is worth living on, long after we’re gone.  I certainly don’t have all the answers. I have my good days (I recycle the little plastic caps on milk containers) and bad days (I cleaned out the fridge and threw a bunch of old food out – I have mold issues). “Less bad” isn’t the answer but it’s a start, so if you’re at all interested, start there. And if you’re reading this you’re most likely employed, unlike the slacker that I am, so you probably didn’t have time to plant a tree today. Well it’s okay, I got at least five or six of you covered depending on how you look at it. Just tell ’em Chris planted a tree for you today.

But hey, maybe sometime this Spring or Fall, or next year, or whenever, if you have some free time maybe plant a tree yourself.  Make it a little one if you want.  I saw at least two of the baby pines I planted last year are still doing fine, and our Christmas tree has little grown nubs on it I think. Literally grab a shovel, go out and plant something.  I don’t care if you’re nine or ninety-nine. Give it a shot. If that doesn’t work for you tie it into something you like to do. I go shopping for LED bulbs, and plants with a fierceness I would pit against any crazed shoes-shopping woman. Anyway, whatever you do, do something. And don’t do it for anyone but yourself if need be. It’s fun, rewarding and you don’t even have to tell anyone (or tell me, I’d love to hear what you did).  Point is, just do something positive for the planet. Trust me, you’ll really enjoy it.

Even if it exhausts you.

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