The Tale of Two Trees

All of us experience “storms” on this journey called life.  Sometimes they catch us off guard and others times they are predicted and we fail to prepare or heed the warning.  The storm that blew across Virginia last weekend and a large portion of the east coast left a lot of tree devastation behind.  Some trees were weak but others were strong and still could not withstand the fierce straight line winds of the “derecho” storm.

I was reminded of a “parable” I had written a year ago about two trees in our yard. I share it with you…..

The Take of Two Trees

We have two trees, Walnut and Pecan, in our yard; they have a story to tell…..

The Walnut tree has stood the test of time for many years. An early photo from our farm shows the tree in the background, already a good-size sturdy tree with a very noticeable “north” lean.

When I came to the farm in 1972, I wanted to cut down the leaning, broken up, tree with dead limbs and a hollow trunk. But my husband who can not bring himself to give up on anything that may have a shred of value was adamantly against cutting down this fine tree. I was so sure this tree would not stand much longer that I planted a tender young maple close by. But Walnut refused to succumb to the elements.

Each year Walnut burst forth with a new crop of leaves and continues to produce an abundant crop of big green walnuts as if to taunt me when I had to rake them up so I could mow. Woodpeckers love the tree, knocking themselves senseless on its hard hollow bark. And each year Walnut and Maple grow a little taller, a little thicker and a little sturdier. Through the years their branches have intertwined as if they are thriving on the companionship of the other. And quite often my husband proudly points out the tree he didn’t give up on.

After the Hertzlers purchased the farm in 1967, Daddy planted several pecan seedlings in the yard. Forty-four years later these trees have grown into tall, stately shade trees producing generous crops of delicious pecans. But one tree in particular was hiding a deadly problem; it had developed a bad heart with decay rotting deep into its core. Early in its youth, a cow bit off the top of the tree, almost ruining it. It appeared to recover, shooting up 4 thick, strong trunks. However, in recent years we began to notice the well-kept secret. A split appeared in the trunk where it divided into four sections. Over time moisture had corrupted the flesh of the tree, seeped deep into its soul and rotted the heart.

Gene came to the tree’s rescue and put a chain around the weaken trunks and tighten them together. The tree continued to withstand the storms of life, including Hurricane Isabelle in 2002. Over time the tree continued to grow and thrive causing the security chain to snap apart. We noticed what had happened to its support but put off coming to its aid.

One evening several weeks ago, a sudden “big blow” broke off one the trunks revealing a tree rotten to the core. It was a sad day to see our beloved shade tree for what it really was; beautiful, stately and weak.

Once again plans were made to secure the tree with chains but before it could be done another sudden storm broke off the second trunk leaving a very weak, lopsided tree to weather a major hurricane brewing on the horizon. Irene was threatening to show her strength. Again I wanted to cut down the tree and start over and again Gene was determined to help the tree survive.

This time the two remaining trunks were chained together and a “lifeline” chain was fasted well above the rotten core and firmly secured to the base of a nearby tree.

The “support” tree is strong and its roots go deep into the ground. The strength of the support enabled Pecan to withstand the winds of Hurricane Irene.

We realize that years of decay have taken its toll and Pecan will never again be a productive, strong and stately shade tree. Yes, it has survived a devastating crisis. Yes, it will produce some more fruit and shade; but no longer will it be a tree of honorable and pride. No longer will it be able to stand on its own.

   Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out is roots by the       river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his way, according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 17: 7-10

August 27, 2011


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