Clint Patterson: Four fairly large sugar maple trees were located in Grandma’s yard which had been planted by her and several of her seven children before my time. One of these trees, with branches low to the ground and spaced apart just right, was referred to as “the climbing tree” by us grandkids. We spent so much time in that tree that each of its limbs we sat on had a certain name. Whether we were pretending to be Tarzan, monkeys or pirates, this was the place to be.
Grandma didn’t stop planting trees once her kids were grown. There were still some empty spaces available when grandkids came along. Since I was the oldest grandson, I got to help plant most of them. These tree planting expeditions are my earliest memories of planting trees, and probably influenced my “when there is a will, there is a way” attitude about getting things done, too.
“Run and get the spade, and lets go hunt some trees to plant!” Grandma hollered out the window. In a flash, we were “barreling” down the road in the “Old Blue Goose” — Grandma’s 1950-something baby blue car with the goose hood emblem. She’d drive fast over the little hills to make your belly flutter. Of course, back then kids stood up in the seat, and the car didn’t even have seatbelts.
Soon, we arrived at an old country cemetery bordered in the back by woods. “Here, stick that brick behind the tire before I let off the brake,” she said, pointing to a brick in the floorboards, “That’ll keep it from rolling down the hill.” The “Old Blue Goose” had been known to do that.
Traipsing across the cemetery, we came to the woods and started picking out trees to dig up. “Shoot, there’s way more trees here than there is room for,” she said as she began to dig up a five foot tall sugar maple. “Ooooey! That ground’s hard. I can’t take it with these bare feet,” she exclaimed as she handed me the shovel. It was a cool fall day, but Grandma never wore shoes if she could help it. Jumping up and down on the spade, it took all 50 pounds of me to get it in the ground far enough for us to dig the tree out.
We had three sugar maples and a redbud dug, before we realized how heavy they were. “Here, you wait here, I’ve got an idea,” she said, as she headed towards the car. Minutes later, she arrived with the spare tire cover and an extension cord. One at a time, we rolled the root ball onto the tire cover, tied it up with the extension cord, and dragged it across the cemetery to the car. Each time we’d stop to rest along the way, she’d point out a gravestone of someone she had known and talk about them. “Shoot, I guess I’ve got more friends in here than living…might as well get something done while I’m still here, that’s what I say,” she chuckled as we’d begin dragging the tree again. “Nothing some brains and a little elbow grease can’t solve,” she stated, as we managed to heave the last one into the trunk.
By supper time, the trees were planted. Over the next three years, several more were planted by the same method by various grandkids. Remarkably, every tree lived. Some had to be taken out as they became too overcrowded. I think Grandma kept planting them, even when there were already enough, just so every grandkid got to do it. Today, these trees are approximately fifty feet tall and are a living reminder of Grandma and her remarkable “gumption”, as she would say. – Richmond Register