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Over Here: 23 - The Tree Planter

"Grown trees lend exclamation points to life when you realize that you are the one who years ago put that original, small twig into the ground!''

Ron Pataky continues his autobiography.

We did not work on Sundays. We worshipped, we ate, and we loafed. The "we" did not, of course, include Grandpa. The chores still needed to be done, and though many of them were done by us boys during the week, Grandpa's unusual sense of Christian duty dictated that, since animals had to be fed and milked every day, it was better at least that only one person blemish the Sabbath by performing labor on that day. Reflecting on it at the time, intellectually, I tended to agree. Moreover, I reckoned it should always be the adult who labored, what with youngsters - especially boy youngsters - so new to the faith.

That, of course, meant that Sunday afternoons and early evenings were a kid's dream. We might be down at the creek, doing fun things with minnows or crawdads. (Even then, I valued the merits of scientific research, although I drew the line at dissection and other forms of amphibian and-or creek-side cruelty). We might be off running in the game refuge Uncle Christ owned and "farmed." Unc did things like raise pheasants for eventual release (an exercise, like chewing warm tar or sucking on gravel, whose delights I never did fully understand). He was part of a group of four who'd imported the first Weimaraner dogs to this country. He was a member of— and for a time president of — the Ohio Nut Grower's Association. Although he was more hunter than fisherman, he loved to fish as well. The problem for him was that proper fishing required time, and Uncle Christ, like most soil-dwellers, was super-stingy with his time. A man could hunt, after all, for a couple of hours. Decent fishing, which in any case was minimally an hour away, took the better part of a day. Anyway, he didn't drink alcohol, which tended to preclude membership in all sorts of regular and-or ad hoc fishing groups.

And trees! Mercy, did that man plant trees! Pine trees, spruce, maples, ash, birch, even willows by the river — but, most of all, nut trees of every conceivable kind. If every man had been of Uncle Christ's persuasion, the world would once again have been a virtual Garden of Eden! (In keeping with that thought, incidentally, Unc was among the kindest, most thoroughly agreeable men I've ever known. You never knew the true fullness of that man's understanding until you had done him — or existence itself— a serious, no-nonsense wrong! As a boy, I was intimately acquainted with that fullness!).

There is nothing, I think, quite like planting a tree and living to see it grow to maturity. Talk about mixed emotions! Grown trees lend exclamation points to life when you realize that you are the one who years ago put that original, small twig into the ground! I don't know why I mention it at this precise moment, but I do think it holds its own as an observation. (My wisdom theretofore in life, remember, had been limited to such pearls as: "There's a little bit of ourselves in each of us," "Without a wall, the room wouldnever end,''or even "A little yearning is a dangerous thing"). But it's possible I digress again.


To read earlier episodes of Ron's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/over_here/


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