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VALLEY MUSINGS: A little help goes a long way

Donna Thompson
Sentinel columnist
Posted 5/21/23

When I looked out the front door and spotted a long rectangular cardboard box on my front porch, I groaned.

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VALLEY MUSINGS: A little help goes a long way


When I looked out the front door and spotted a long rectangular cardboard box on my front porch, I groaned.

It was the apple tree I had ordered, but the timing of its arrival, it seemed to me, could not have been worse. I had only begun to clear out the weedy space where it was to be planted and the forecast called for rainy, chilly weather for the following day and a number of days after that.

Ordering plants is not my favorite thing to do, since they usually arrive at some inconvenient time with instructions to “plant immediately,” but we wanted another yellow transparent apple tree and my next-younger sister had offered to pay for it as an early birthday present. Our old tree has more dead branches than live ones, but once again this year there are blossoms, giving us hope that we might get enough apples to make some applesauce — or at least steer the woodchucks away from the vegetable garden.

There was still time before supper to take the clippers and wheelbarrow out and plug away some more at the elderberry patch turned weed thicket with vicious thorns — wild rose, maybe — that attacked any who ventured too close, a definite hazard during mowing season.

I began snipping and using the clippers to place the thorny canes into the wheelbarrow. It was slow going. After supper I took advantage of the extended daylight hours to visit the patch again. This time I made use of a garden rake as well as the clippers and made better progress, but I decided the tree could be planted a little to the southeast of the patch; it would still receive full sunlight and would not have to contend with the roots that would still be firmly entrenched when I ran out of daylight that evening.

My next-younger sister had given my niece’s husband a list of things we could use some help with and we were hoping he might come the following day. The weather hardly seemed promising that Saturday, but he called just as we were sitting down to lunch and arrived a short time later.

He used my sister’s chainsaw to cut down the pine tree near our garden shed. Then he went to work on the sumac trees that had fallen onto the roof of my sister’s shed, used roofing cement and nails to repair a damaged shingle and cut some of the other trees and brush in that area. The tree planting came next. He quickly dug a hole and the tree was soon in the ground.

He also pounded away at the remains of an old stump near the house and helped my sister and me pull some of the leaves and gunk out of the creek.

Then there was the felled pine tree to cut up. He worked with the chainsaw while my sister and I dragged branches and tossed them on the brush piles at the edge of the woods. The battery on the chainsaw ran out of power before he could finish, but he returned the following Saturday to finish the task, although the chainsaw was decidedly less cooperative.

He also started the two mowers that I had been unable to start. I trimmed with the weed-whip mower while my sister used the lawn tractor. After finishing with the tree, our helper took over and finished the trimming, much more thoroughly than I would have managed.

We sent him on his way with asparagus we had picked from our patch that day.

It was the least we could do.


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