Changing times and the sway of the trees
It was about a year ago when I wrote on this specific page about my love for trees.
Growing up in rural St. Croix County probably has a great deal to do with that long love affair.
But it goes beyond my childhood days and extends well into adulthood - all the way to 2016.
I have never been able to cut trees out of my life, nor have I ever want to do so.
I’ve written here in the past that when I was a kid, my father decided he was going to plant about 20-plus acres of his property in trees -- conifers, to be exact.
Yup, you guessed it ... I was one of seven children who was asked to pitch in.
Begrudgingly, I helped.
It was to be a life-changing experience that provided me with a new-found insight into the natural world and how and why it’s so important to the human condition.
As that young boy, I remember so well how we walked the line and every few feet opened the earth ever so slightly to slip seedlings into their new home.
Then we sat back and let Mother Nature and Father Time do their work.
The trees grew and matured, as did I.
Within a few years these trees grew to the perfect height to be utilized as Christmas trees.
That entreprenurial spirit infected myself and my siblings so much so that we decided we were going to head out into the woods to cut nicely formed trees, drag them out of the woods, throw them into the back of a pickup and haul them into town to sell.
It was a lot of work, but it was also quite rewarding physically, mentally and monetarily -- so much so that it provided me and my brothers enough money to buy Christmas gifts for our family.
I remember heading to Steffens Hardware Store where we picked out a brand new blender for our mother.
OK, she knew the gift was only partially intended for her pleasure. We had ulterior motives because we loved ice cream malts.
Since that time I have loved what trees bring to our lives ... a fact that impacted me just this past month (I’ll get to that later).
Their color, strength, and longevity always amazed me and left me longing always to be around them.
Whenever I moved, wherever I lived, I was drawn to places where trees were king.
Whether it was the mighty oak, the towering red pine or the majestic white pine -- these were trees to which I was drawn.
When my wife and I bought our first home, it was surrounded by conifers and dotted with stands of hardwood over its 40 acres.
We loved that home and the property where we brought our children into the world.
On that property were a line of several blue spruce that eloquently hid our home from the roadway.
Unfortunately, whoever planted those trees failed to look up -- they planted them directly below the power line.
When they grew, they grew tall.
They were so tall that the power company came along from time to time to trim the tops.
That was fine and it didn’t seem to stunt their growth.
The day came when the power company wanted to cut down those trees and pull the stumps. We were not only angry, but determined not to allow them to be destroyed.
We fought them tooth and nail and eventually won.
They let the trees remain.
After we sold the place we said goodbye to those blue spruce, as well as all the others under which we had picnics, under which we skied.
When we moved to the Minocqua area, we found property that was adorned with all types of trees.
We loved them for their shade and their beauty.
We loved to hear the wind blow through their branches and for them being home to so many birds and other critters. We even loved the tree that so unceremoniously fell onto our roof during a windstorm and left a nice hole.
After arriving back in St. Croix County this past year, we decided to have a home built.
What was one of the main criteria for our new property?
You guessed it ... trees.
We found a chunk of land with lots of conifers. Needless to say, we are happy.
And when a lone cardinal entertained us from atop of one of those trees on one of our first visits to the property, we knew it was right.
After several months of dealing with the ins and outs, and the ups and downs of having a home built, the day came when we signed the papers and moved in.
What was it I have enjoyed most?
Could it have been the newly-painted walls or the fresh lay of the new carpet or the new roof that would keep the rain, wind and snow from harming us?
Could it have been the bright walkout basemet that will provide ample space to watch the Packers, play music or sit and read a newspaper, book or magazine?
Or could it simply be the newness of everything - a new life in a new home situated on a quiet country road that has no light pollution and very quiet neighbors?
All of that is great stuff and primary reasons why this has been one of the most intriguing and inspiring moves we have made as a couple.
Despite the fact that the home is situated in a township that is seemingly devoid of simple connections to the outside world - there is no internet connectivity - it is right for us.
It has been the simple pleasures we have encountered which has made it right.
It is being able to lie in my bed, look out the window and watch the branches of the surrounding trees bend and sway to the music of the breeze.
It is the thought that we will once again have the opportunity to watch nature take its course right in our backyard.
Once again, we knew we were home.
We knew we were among friends.