Ankle Deep Shade
When my wife and I purchased the five acres that we built our home on thirty plus years ago, there was only one tree, a mature cottonwood, on the property. And that tree was all the way on the back fence line. So, we went about to planting trees even ahead of building our home. One of my favorites is known as an “autumn purple ash”. It was just a leafless, three-foot sapling, a stick really, when it arrived in the mail. I had some doubts about its survival, but it sprouted quickly, thrived, and grew over a foot the first year.
It was shaping into a nice little tree by the end of the third year, so I went back to the supplier to order more of them, but in just those three years the emerald ash borer became a recognized threat in Wisconsin and the garden nursery no longer sell any kind of ash tree. I understand, but it is too bad as the tree now stands over thirty-five feet high and is perfectly round shaped. It now provides welcome shade for the hottest part of summer afternoons for our patio. We have a two-person glider positioned just right to enjoy the coolness the tree offers. It’s one of my favorite places to spend an intentionally lazy summer afternoon, especially if fortified with a glass of iced tea and a good book.
The tree was named for its fall color. It really has two fall colors. The leaves first turn from green to an almost lemon yellow; then they turn a second time into a magenta/purple color. That was the picture in the garden catalog that first convinced me to purchase it. What the catalog didn’t explain was that the tree is an early color turner, and an even earlier leaf shedder. It was only a week and a half ago that I went out to the patio start the charcoal grill when I noticed a small – say five-foot patch near the top of the south side of the ash tree that was already yellow. I mentioned it to Michelle because we have learned that the autumn purple ash will be beautiful, but the show is over quickly. Sure enough; within a week the entire tree was yellow. A few days later the tree had turned that lovely purple color. And just a few days after that, I went out to start the grill and I had to brush some of those purple leaves off of the grill cover.
The maples usually will hold their yellow and orange and red leaves for a couple of weeks, and maybe even through some of those autumn driving rains and blustery days. With our ash tree, though, once the leaves start falling it literally rains leaves, even on the calmest days. By the end of the third day of leaf fall, all of this year’s shade is piled ankle-deep around the tree’s perimeter.
Today I raked up most of those leaves to get them on the garden beds for compost material. The ash tree stands bare and winter-ready while the linden tree on one side and the birch on the other, haven’t even fully turned color yet.
I suppose one could suggest that the already bare ash tree proves the Proverb true: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain” Proverb 31:30; however, one should also consider that in these later October days, even when the sun is bright and the sky cloudless, temperatures can struggle to get past the mid-50’s. The empty ash tree that provided welcome shade all summer, now lets the direct sunlight reach the patio with its warmth, a welcome blessing that warms an upturned face.
Is it not better then, rather than to choose a particular preferred beauty, to strive to always see the beautiful and the holy in each now?
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
His Peace <><