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oak treeI recently had a birthday, one that was evenly divisible by five, which meant it was another opportunity for me to plant a tree in my yard. A normal person would have landscaped the entire lot at once, but I don't know any normal people.

The first tree in the series, planted 25 years ago, was a crepe myrtle, chosen as a companion for an existing crepe myrtle in the front yard. The younger one has long since overtaken the older in both breadth and width and it now guards the lawn like a massive, flowery-bedecked giant, invoking undisguised awe from passers-by.

When I bought my home in 1986 the back yard was a sad, barren wasteland. Nothing but cracked clay, scrubby weeds, and sunburned ants. So twenty years ago I blew out the candles on my cake and plunged the root-ball of an 8-foot oak sapling deep into the rock-hard gumbo. It took ten years of struggle but the oak finally got sort of a second wind and has since grown like a weed the past ten years. It's now at least forty feet tall and its shade has transformed a once-apocalypse into a paradise of soft, cool St. Augustine. In addition, it protects my home from the withering glare of the summer sun which has, no doubt, lessened my energy bills.

I don't know what was transpiring in my life fifteen years ago but I somehow forgot to plant a tree that year, but I made up for it five years later when I decided it was time for the variety of tree no Texas home should be without... a pecan. For the first five years of its life were exasperating as it reliably dropped all of its leaves at the first hint of summer temperatures, no matter how much water I lavished upon it. Eventually it came to some agreement with the heat and has managed to retain its leafy raiment these past few years but, so far, no crop of nutty grandchildren. Alack, alas.

Five years ago I bought a rather expensive, for me, silver maple to add to the front yard but it didn't survive its second winter. In it place, planted but a week ago, is a much more modest, hopefully hardier, live oak. I'll let you know in ten years how it works out.

So, in case you're counting I have added five (actually six) new trees to the world but no guns. Would that everyone could say the same thing.


Note: Sorry, no super-secret comic today.


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