Cherry Tree

For Earth Day this year we selected cherry as our tree of choice to plant. This will add a third type of fruit tree to our little makeshift orchard; joining peaches and apples.

We went out and selected two trees, one for each boy. Variety wise, one tree is a Bing, and the other is a self-fertilizing Stella. At the end of the season when they are on sale or in a future year we’ll add a third tree. These semi-dwarf trees shouldn’t get too large, about 6′ tall and wide.

They make for a nice balance, opposite the peach trees along the path leading to the vegetable garden.

Finally working in the yard this weekend has been a wonderful experience for me. I forget how great it is to get earth between my hands and fingers. To be on my knees close to the ground amongst the plants and insects. To hear the birds and the hum of spring.

This year has been extremely stressful for me. And the added burden of this whole driveway thing and it’s potential cost has stressed me past what is probably healthy. The pinnacle was the one night where I had a nightmare in which my driveway literally swallowed me up. I was falling, at first I thought only a few feet, then realizing I was falling further, ten, twenty feet below ground in a sink hole, looking up at the blue sky, waiting for the ground to collapse in upon me.

At a time when I should be focusing on my family….and making ends meet, here is yet another random roadblock.

Seemingly every time we have a glimmer of getting ahead, life finds a way to kick us back a few paces. I guess it’s like that for all of us. And the worst part is, the whole driveway thing isn’t even important to us. I’ve even said, if we had twelve thousand dollars, putting in an asphalt driveway wouldn’t even be on our list of what to do with the money.

On the way to church school I was driving my oldest son to the store and I guess he had overheard us talking about the driveway cost and some things that would be nice to be able to pay for instead of a driveway, such as school, our car, maybe a family vacation that we paid for…hell even a swimming pool, house maintenance or landscaping.

He said “Dad, you know how you were saying about how if we had money we could get a pool…what if we could get a basketball hoop?

A pretty simple request.

But it got me thinking more deeply about the things I’ve been thinking about since our lives changed so much over the last four years. This time period has really been testing my mettle.

What’s important? What are my priorities? What are my real obligations in life? Who am I ultimately trying to please around here?

Don’t get me wrong, we’re obviously well off – we have a beautiful home, food on the table, don’t live in a war torn country, etcetera, etcetera. And I’m not looking for sympathy here at all (I deserve none, am asking for none). What I’m trying to do here is steer all of my life stress (most of it self created and self imposed) into some higher study of self priorities.

As such I’m running numbers in my head all the time.

We built this home so our children (and so we, because we’re along for the ride) would have a nurturing physical environment to live, work and play. Ultimately our main priority is our children. Their happiness. Their education. Setting them up to be so much better than we ever could be.

So every day I wake up with the same questions, running the same numbers. Do we hang onto our dreams, scuttle them, or transform them? Right now with challenge after challenge I have no idea how much longer I’ll personally survive quite frankly.  We need to stop getting surprises, and we need more mundane consistency so we can catch our breath.

Ultimately, you know what? The wife and I want to spend time with our kids, travel the country with them, discover new things. Because when you see wonder in your child’s eyes it’s like a drug for parents. We see it all the time in our yard, or in our home when we’re creating something or just enjoying life. We want to keep doing that as much as we can while they’re growing up. Seems like a good plan.

So circling back, and from my perspective quite frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s butt about a “new” driveway. I moved out to the country for the experience, not to bring with me some quest to conquer and assimilate everything to what made me comfortable in another life. And like I said, I’ve got a list of things I’d rather put the money towards.

I don’t know what will happen as far as this driveway thing goes. Right now our choices are to acquiesce to their demands and pay up like a good neighbor should. Or we can politely tell them to go pound salt (we actually have every legal right to do that), but you do have to deal with people long term so…. So hopefully there’s still a middle ground where everyone can win. We initially proposed a maintenance program, but that was declined. Then we proposed waiting til next year but that was reduced to waiting til the fall. Now we’re getting the vibe that they want to pour asphalt as soon as possible for summer party season when apparently people in Rolls will be rolling up the drive.

We shall see.

It could play out based on what mood I’m in. Because slowly, but surely, I’m finally starting to stand up for myself. Or maybe I’m getting old enough where I won’t be bullied by people. Or maybe I simply just don’t give a f*ck anymore what anyone thinks.

I pray it’s the last one, cause that’s really the secret of a fulfilling life.

And maybe they’ll catch us on a day like today.

A day where we took two little wild eyed boys to the store to pick out cherry trees for Earth Day. Each boy choosing their own small tree. Reading tags, learning what type of tree they are. Our oldest standing tall, noting “…this one is the same height as me!“…Driving home listening to a favorite song on the radio, sun shining bright through car windows. Exchanging observations and antidotes as only a little family can; the boys talking about what we’ll do with all those cherries! Arriving at home and planting those two little trees (dad deftly digging two wide holes, just off the garden path, so he can see them from a morning window). Then afterward dad watches as, on a whim, they plant a makeshift veggie garden and grass farm in the yard, from some old seeds discovered in the garage. Cause that’s what you do when you’re young, and you have a huge yard that has no rules (or at least not too many rules). It’s the kind of day you remember for the rest of your life. It’s the kind of day you don’t even need pictures of, cause it’s indelibly marked in your soul.

Maybe they’ll catch me on a day like that…And I tell them to go pound salt because there are more important things in life than asphalt driveways.

By the way, my list of what I’d really like to do with $12K…pick one

  • pay my taxes this year (Uncle Sam is greedy bugger)
  • educate my kids (grade school is more important that college in my opinion)
  • pay off my car
  • fix my Jeep
  • finish the basement
  • get a natural swimming pool
  • get a basketball hoop for my kid
  • get a hot tub
  • finish the landscaping
  • put it towards a Cricket trailer
  • take our Cricket trailer and show the boys all our National Parks
  • buy frames for my wife’s art business
  • get guinea fowl, two goats and three sheep
  • build a pond
  • take my wife on an African safari (take photos for her art)
  • go to Italy
  • build an outdoor pavilion and have a pig roast
  • build a cool tree house in the woods for the kids
  • take my dad fishing (he always took me)
  • not have to worry about money for a while
  • be able to spend time with my kids
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