Sunday, April 11, 2010

From the Seed He Sowed

My ineptitude at most things "handy" is well-documented. If you do not believe me - and if we have ever met you have undoubtedly seen evidence of my attempts (mostly well intentioned failures) - you may feel free to consult Margaret on this issue. Among the gags in our house is that if someone is going to unwrap a package on Christmas morning containing a tool or a reasonable facsimile thereof, it is going to be Margaret. I live life according to the Gospel of Harry Callahan. Mine are many. Life is simple.

Being something of a legendary procrastinator and being married to a woman whose full-time job, role as a mother to two young adults (one inside of her home, both inside of her heart) and avocation as caretaker and eye-keeper-on'er one spry senior citizen father, it is amazing how much stuff I get away with delaying getting done. Not only has my doing dial not been turned up a notch - much to the chagrin of Ed Harris and the fine folks at The Home Depot - it more often than not seems to have been soldered in the "OFF" position.

Which is why on April's second Saturday - the one following Easter Saturday, the Missus and me officially closed the book on the Christmas season by taking down our exterior Christmas lights. I had been keeping my fingers crossed that Margaret would forget about them, we would get to June 26th and I would be able to make a really compelling argument about being closer to Christmas than far from it and prevail upon her to just leave them up there. Even in a non-Leap Year February I came not close at all to meeting my mark.

Thus we spent a few minutes yesterday afternoon (it was a glorious day here 'NTSG) taking down our Christmas lights. Gee, just what our neighbors needed - another thing about which to talk regarding the occupants of our home. Right about the time I learn any of their names, I shall also learn how to faking giving a shit. 'Til then....not bloody likely.

While we were taking down the Christmas lights yesterday I saw an opportunity and I took it. Margaret was standing on the front lawn near Sparky and I snapped a picture of them together, which I sent to Rob. Sparky is his after all, which is to say that he is the member of the family who brought him home to all of us. I smiled looking at Sparky there standing silently behind my tiny wife, bent ever so slightly up near his head and neck as if he was looking down upon her checking out what she was doing.

Sparky is a great example of perseverance and of the triumph of the human spirit. In this case, while it was Sparky who persevered, Rob was the human with the unquenchable fire. A little background information is probably helpful here. Sparky is an evergreen tree - what type precisely I have no idea. I do know that when he first arrived at our house we did not live where we do presently. We lived over on Third Street. He came home with Rob from school one day - perhaps an Arbor Day or an Earth Day - but most assuredly a day when Rob was in second or third grade.

Rob carried Sparky home from school. While that would be a Herculean task presently, all those years ago it took little sweat equity at all. Sparky the evergreen was essentially a stick with an evergreen hat on top. The class's mission was to take their "tree" home and plant it, which Rob looked to do without delay. Full of optimism and ambition he went into the shed behind our home and withdrew a shovel to dig Sparky's hole. His spirits sagged just a bit when Margaret took one of her much smaller garden spades to dig Sparky's new home for him. The implantation process took all of a couple of minutes.

From minute one in our terra firma, Rob tended to Sparky like a mother bear looking after her prized cub. He was thrilled when Sparky grew steadily - if slowly - and was able to support a small string of Christmas lights by his second Christmas. And as one might expect, much like a well-cared for bear cub, Sparky grew up healthy and strong.

When we moved - from one side of town to the other - ten summers ago a very important part of the move was the transplantation of Sparky. Rob and Ronnie - who worked at the time for Frank - devoted most of their energy that day to making sure Sparky was properly removed from his spot at our soon-to-be-former home and properly planted in his new spot at his new address. That was ten years ago.

In the decade since we moved in Sparky has grown exponentially. I remain convinced that one day in the not-too-distant future the good folks who are charged with the duty of placing the tree in Rockefeller Center are going to come looking to relocate Sparky one final time. In the interim, he has grown so large that we shall need this summer to reconfigure the fence that separates the front yard from the back yard. Sparky needs more room to grow.

And yesterday afternoon as the Missus and me enjoyed the early April sunshine and warmth as we stood wrapping up our outside Christmas lights, I could not help but smile. At Sparky and at the thought of how much we all have grown during his lifetime. And how much has come from such a humble beginning.

From small things big things one day come. Indeed they do.


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