It was a beautiful morning to do a little yard work. Those who live in the South know that once May arrives, outdoor activities need to be confined to the period between sunrise and 10am. After that the heat and humidity become draining and simple jobs become very painful.
This is unless you have a pool or creek to lay in afterwards...which I don't. But, this is a beautiful time of day. Everything has had rest and is fresh; the birds sing in a fury of excitement and because the sun hasn't started heating the earth, the sky is very blue and the air is still very tolerable.
As I sat and watched the earth wake up, I realized the morning was wasting and I started pulling weeds along the edge of my sidewalk. As I pulled in a frenzy, sweat running down my nose and gnats flying into my ears, I grabbed a young oak seedling and paused. It was a like I was holding an embryo. Life from a small seed...life trying to survive in a very harsh and unforgiving world. A thin, almost needle-sized stalk with three small leaves attached to the brown life force...an acorn. This newborn was buried here by a squirrel sometime last fall and by chance, it was not found again during the cold months, even though many of it's siblings were devoured as a source of food.
All it wanted was to survive. To grow and add color and beauty to this world.
It gave me pause.
In my hand, this small and fragile plant could someday be 10 times taller than myself. It's stem would one day be a trunk; so large that it would take two or three people to successfully clasp hands around it's circumference.
The three tiny leaves would be multiplied by at least 1000 fold and the branches would stretch outward, wider than my house.
Someday, birds could nest in it's limbs and squirrels could feed on it's nuts. Children could climb it's welcoming branches and play under it's protective cover, while their tired parents could relish the shade as they collapse from running behind little feet.
This would be hundreds of years from now. Long after my body has turned to dust along with anyone reading this blog. And chances are no one in the future will know I was here...my house will be gone along with all my possessions.
But, this little tree has the chance to be here and today, it's in my hand.
I looked over at the pile of crab grass, Florida betony and chickweed that I'd haphazardly piled nearby...my hand dropped the small tree into the brush and I turned away to pull more weeds. "There are a million more just like this one and we've got plenty of young trees in our yard" I reassured myself.
I paused again...
This evening I sit on the front porch with a cool glass of water and admire my neat and weed-free shrub bed.
And in a sunny spot just past the driveway stands an orange flag, marking the spot of a new addition to our yard...an oak tree.