Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Once upon a time I took a Lit test on a novel (Saint Maybe) of which I had read only the first 16 pages.  But I had gone to the 3-hour night class the week before and paid attention to the discussion so I felt reasonably certain that I would do well on the test.  And I did.  I received the highest grade in the class. 

Later that year I showed up to my 12:30 p.m. Modern Philosophy class after two weeks of having slept through classes and discovered that we were having a test that day.  I was so lost.  I received the lowest grade in the class.   The 35% I received was generous. 

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with gardening.  But I bring it up because it speaks to the way I do things.  I am equal parts slacker and over-achiever.  I am just as likely to procrastinate as I am to get something done immediately.  It just depends on my mood.  

Naturally, I take that approach to life into the garden. 

I took this photo on the night before the tree was scheduled to walk the un-Green Mile.
It's not a good photo because of the harsh lighting, but it lets you see what a dominate feature the tree was.  

My mood lately has been all about getting things done.  A couple weeks ago it occurred to me that I had a couple problem trees and after writing about it and getting some valued feedback I decided to get them chopped down.  And, as of yesterday, those trees are now mulch destined for someone else’s yard. 

I can't see one of these in action without thinking of the movie "Fargo".

I was pretty proud of myself for taking action and getting things done so quickly. 

And then 5:00 rolled around – generally the hottest part of the day in Sacramento – and as I stood in the middle of my newly “full sun” lawn with a hose in hand, I found myself metaphorically kicking my own butt for acting so quickly.  I really should have waited until October to cut down the shade-giving mulberry tree.  Another couple months wouldn’t have made a big difference in my gardening plans anyway. 

As for the peach tree that was cut down I don’t have that same regret.  No, it’s an entirely different regret.  The arborist I hired told me he thought the reason it stopped producing peaches was because I let the tree get too tall and overgrown.  It had grown beyond its fruit-bearing size and could have benefitted from new wood every year.  Oops.

I wish I had kept this section of the peach tree but they took it before I got to it.

What’s done is done though, right?  It’s easy to look back on life and second guess the choices we made, to cling to regrets, to redden with shame for the things we did or didn’t do.  But once we’ve learned our lessons from those things, there’s really no use in holding onto them.  I have learned the value of reading every word of a book, I have come to see the truth in the saying “90% of life is just showing up”, and now I know the importance of planting the right tree in the right place and that sometimes it is okay to procrastinate when doing so gives you a little more time to enjoy the shade.

Sawdust and hydrangeas or what was and what still is.


  1. Chad, Did you ever go back and read St. Maybe? I loved that book -- and there's something in the tone of this post (maybe a tension between perfectionism and reality?) that reminds me of the protagonist of that novel. -Jean

    1. Jean, I haven't gone back and read it yet but I intend to someday. I still have it on my "to read" bookshelf in the office and every time I see it I feel a little bit guilty for not having given it another chance.

  2. I gather that milling the Mulberry didn't pan out. Was it too much, or couldn't be done? Ah well. Mulch is a second life too. I might be almost as regretful as you about that peach round, though. Great figure and color...could have been a killer side table or art piece. I had the same issue with the Philosophy of Symbolic Logic, by the way. If they wanted to give us tests on those things, why couldn't they make them interesting?

    1. You gather correctly. I did ask them about milling the lumber since it was a service listed on their web site but they said they no longer do it. It's too labor intensive for them and too costly for most of their clients so they just decided to stop offering the service.

  3. I feel your pain. I had a Silver Maple removed larger than your mulberry in May. I noticed the heat immediately. I had regrets for a I just sweat. lol. hz d sunlight for a veggie garden, now too much. they are getting smoked. The future is bright. hehe.

    1. Greg - I know the feeling already. Our A/C is working overtime to keep us at the same temp we were used to but if the bill is huge I might have to start getting used to a new normal.

      I hear Silver Maples are a nuisance tree. Was that your experience?

  4. Trees are essential to our lives. We give them least of appreciation but when they're cut down would we know their importance. It's a sad reality.

  5. This year I've had great success with a combination of showing up and then procrastinating. Case in point: the performance of the 15-year-old front yard dogwood has always been pitiful and by August it traditionally looks near death. Each spring, however, it would perform this asthmatic revival and so I would snort and leave it alone; wandering off to tend to more rewarding subjects. This spring I planted myself in the ivy and announced my intention to cut it down. Dead. Kaput. I glared my way past it for a few weeks, clinging FIRMLY to that intention (the showing up part). That tree had a complete change in attitude, doubling in size and neatly screening us from the unsightly neighbors, which was why it was planted in the first place. Cured by procrastination.

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