I wouldn't have done it had I known who you were. Part my ignorance for not recognizing your tiny leaves. Part my intension to clean up the weeds in that large mulch area out back. I found you at your most vulnerable part of your life, a three inch seedling. Your first few weeks above ground soaking up the sunlight and letting photosynthesis feed your growth.
You came to me in late fall. I didn’t see the gray squirrel who buried you in the mulch patch, you tiny little acorn. Just a couple of inches into the dirt. And then you went to sleep. Was the winter as hard for you as it was for me? But you didn’t mind all that snow and ice on top of you, did you? Actually it was good for you. As it all melted, it only provided you the moisture you needed when you woke up. And the squirrel who buried you didn’t remember where to look for you over the winter. I know you were hoping for that forgetfulness on its part. So you were lucky also!
And then spring came. Your tiny seed inside the acorn shell started to swell with the dream of becoming one day a tall and handsome oak just like your parent. And swell you did till you cracked the shell, and started your germination. Very small at first but determined to dig down into the earth. The taproot. Your first ‘anchor’, the one to hold you for the rest of your life, seeking moisture and nutrition from the soil. And then you went the other way. You sent up your first shoot. I don’t know how you did it but somehow you did push your way up through the dirt, leaves and mulch. Wish I had your strength and determination. First one tiny leaf, then a second, a third and fourth. Soaking up the sun, taking in carbon dioxide and sucking up the moisture. You were on your way to becoming an oak tree. Like your big brothers and sisters out there you would have grown to be a tall mature tree in a couple of hundred years. Reaching for the sky at maybe more than 200 feet in height. Giving a good refreshing shade to those below you. Welcoming birds looking for a nest. And your acorns would have fed so many. Like gray squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkeys, crows, flying squirrels, deer, rabbits, opossums, blue jays, quail, raccoons, wood ducks, just to mention a few. Thousands of acorns every fall. Yes I know, you drop many thousands because you know only a very, very few will see the day when they will become a majestic oak tree. And then I came along and grabbed your fragile little body and pulled you up out of the ground. And just like that, that was the end of your very short life! Sorry, really.
But, to be fair, can you tell the squirrels to burry you in a better place? That mulch patch was a horrible place to start your life. You were too close to other trees and had no room to grow either tall or wide. You know, somewhere by the edge of a meadow, with plenty of sun, space around you and nowhere near squirrels, deer, rabbits, bears, raccoons or … people.
When I pulled you out of the ground I expected a weed. Instead I got a big surprise. And then you started me on this learning path about your life, from the acorn to the giants of your kind. I am grateful for that! Next time I’ll be more careful of those tiny little leaves just sticking up three inches above the ground. If you are in a bad spot I’ll transplant you to a better one. I’ll watch over you and protect you, though I know I’ll never get to see you as a young tree!
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