Monday, November 9, 2015

This Spring I Lost Two Trees

It's not like they just pulled up roots, wandered away and then got lost. 

So then, how did I lose two trees?

Appearances are deceiving. The tree in the center of the yard was half dead by the time the leaves disappeared last fall ahead of winter. The larger tree on the left, the entire tree that is, had abnormal, severely stunted barely alive leaves and provided no shade through summer 2014. 

With thanks to that uninvited and unwanted pest, the Emerald Ash Borer, neither tree would see another summer.

On March 31, 2015, the two diseased and dying ash trees in my backyard fell in a hail of sawdust and disappeared almost as quickly as a puff of smoke. 

A third smaller ash tree will have to follow in the same way. Last year it was healthy. This summer the leaves were stunted and some branches dead.

No fear! The tree removal guys quickly brought down large parts of the tree.

One tree already down and hauled away and then the trimmed trunk of the second follows.

Losing these tall ash trees really bothered me. On hot summer days I enjoyed sitting in the shade beneath them and occasionally enjoying fresh watermelon pieces that Kie would bring out to me.

As the following reveals, I'm not the first person to be annoyed over losing shade trees... but I was nowhere near as angry.

"Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left - and also much cattle?”
(Jonah 4:6-11)

Yes! The same Jonah who was swallowed by the great fish was angry about losing a shade providing plant.

About an hour later... pieces that did not end up here in the wood pile were very efficiently chewed into chips.

Free very good quality firewood for the taking. 

During the day passing vehicles would simply stop, load up with a few choice sticks and then drive away. That was the purpose for placing the wood there.

Every piece had disappeared within 24 hours.

This image was recorded more than 20 years ago and shows a then recently cut healthy ash tree.

On this subject of very good firewood...

This ode to firewood favouring ash was in a display at the 2015 Farmington Fair.

The display at the Farmington Fair highlighted the plight of the North American ash tree. A deadly plague caused by that trouble-causing, illegal alien known as the emerald ash borer. 

Ash trees are dying off, much like native chestnut trees first and then elm trees did more than a century earlier.

Will the common ash tree be able to survive?

The Oddblock Station Agent

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Futility Room

About thirty years ago the Futility Room was first introduced to me by the late James Dick.

In spring 1985 Kie and I visited Mr. Dick at his new home near Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, and he gave us the grand tour. We came to the doorway of one room that he called the Futility Room, which was actually the laundry room; he had moved his exercise bicycle and equipment in there. This said, I was never certain if he gave the room that name because there is always one more piece of laundry to be done or if the time spent on a treadmill or exercise bicycle never took him anywhere.

In retrospect, I think we all have a Futility Room; it's that place where we spend countless hours doing activities that really do not take us anywhere but we persist in doing those activities nonetheless. We know this already... but buried inside us is that innate drive to keep going.

My father spent many years on his stamp collection; he had taken over the collection after his father had passed away. From the occasional comment he made through the years, my father was always hoping one of us (his children) would take over and continue the collection. My father's wish has not been fulfilled and is not likely to be.

But don't be sad if you reading this post!

I too persist in a similar way but with a completely unrelated activity, and I have been for several decades. I write these pages that have become several volumes, hoping that one day in the future after I am gone someone may actually read them.

These pages record various scenes from my journey through life and admitted struggles with my faith and beliefs, but the cold hard reality that I know already is that no one will be interested. I clearly know this but I continue writing anyway. Now you understand the futility part.

Let's face it!

No one cares what the weather may have been on April 3, 2002... even I don't care, but I may have recorded it on that date.

The old people I have briefly written about are forgotten strangers who are long gone as I too shall be one day. But I persist in writing about them anyway... perhaps because as I look back at the lives and influences of those older people, those earlier generations of my family, I discover that I don't know much about them. They were a part of my early life in their special ways but sadly I repeat; I don't know much about them. They didn't write things down for those of us following to read about later. 

Buried in bits within these pages, I have recorded vignettes of family history that are, admittedly, very limited; and for two reasons. First, because of limited details and second, because of my failures to have listened attentively years ago coupled with my own fading memories of today. Trust me: the unbelievably unforgettable does become unbelievably faded and then forgotten over time, maybe even within our own lifetime; I really hate to admit this.

"For of the wise man as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing in that the days to come all will have become long forgotten. How the wise man dies just like the fool!"
(Ecclesiastes 2:16)

Who we are and what we have done is never intended to endure here on earth.

Knowing this and for whatever reason, the Futility Room does seem to offer some degree of comfort.

"For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart."
(Ecclesiastes 5:20)

Keep pedalling anyway!!

The Oddblock Station Agent