When I was four years old, my parents moved our family to the country from the Big City. My mom still lives in the house we moved to...42 years ago. We didn't have a telephone or a well for over a year. We hauled our water from a community well five miles away and my parents made emergency-only phone calls from a neighbor's house. There was only one television channel. It was an NBC channel and the local news was half in English and half in Navajo.
At first we lived on 2 acres, then my parents were able to buy the lot next to us, then the one on the other side. My grandfather owned the adjoining property to the back of our house, where he had a small mobile home he visited in the summer. So, we had one big yard!
Growing up, we made our own fun and mostly it was outside. We liked to make forts in the bushes and climb two big juniper trees that were in Grandpa's backyard. We didn't know about property lines or anything, so his pretty much seemed like our backyard.
Now fast-forward to 1999. That is the year that Grandpa gave up his property and Dan and I acquired it. The best thing about our new yard were those two huge juniper trees. We situated our new house about 25 feet away from one of the trees so it is on the south side and provides wonderful shade for our house in the summer. It is the tree we sat our swing under, along with our Bar-B-Que, a picnic table, and even a couple of Grandpa's old metal patio chairs, which I guess to be from the 1950s or 60s. We have a bird bath close by, some bird feeders Dan made for me from cups and saucers on top of posts and feeders for the hummingbirds hang from the tree's branches. You could pretty much say we built our house and yard around this tree.
Since we live in an area that has been in a drought for so many years, we haven't added any more trees. Our well has gone dry once. For over two years hauled water from that same community well that my family did when I was a child. If you have never had to haul water, let me tell you it is not a real fun thing to have on your to-do list every few days. It gets old fast! Hauling it to water trees just doesn't seem like the thing to do.
Just recently, about three or four weeks ago, Dan noticed something not quite right on one of the branches of our much-loved tree and suspected some bugs had eaten away at a part of one of the branches. We were busy going out of town a couple of weeks in a row, due to a relative who was sick and has now passed away. So, obviously, the tree would not Dan's first priority at the time. Once we were home and settled, Dan took a little closer look at the limb, broke a piece off, collected some of the bugs and headed to the local nursery for advice. It turns out the tree has been attacked by Bark Beetles. There are two big limbs that have really suffered a lot of damage. Dan has sprayed it and fertilized it with what the man at the nursery advised. He has cut off any of the little dead limbs that were up inside to let all of the nutrition can get to the live parts. Yesterday our friend, John, who has a Master's degree in agriculture came to take a look at it. John's news was not good. He said it is not very often that you can actually get rid of these nasty insects once they get started. We know that here in the southwest Bark Beetles have killed off huge portions of our forests. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that it takes years to actually kill off a tree of this size. John encouraged Dan to keep doing what he is doing with fertilizer and maybe it would be healthy enough to fight it off.
The news was not what we wanted to hear, but we are trying to remember it is only a tree. For some reason, this is harder for me to remember than it should be. That tree has so many fond memories spanning nearly my whole life. It is a beautiful part of God's creation and I suppose I just don't want to start making memories without it.