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Another Day in the Country

A cautionary tale

© Another Day in the Country

This is a glorious time of year. It’s a time of so much possibility — so much potential for beauty and abundance.

And then I went out this morning to have breakfast in the slanting sunshine, sat down with my Korean coffee in one hand and my eggs and muffin in the other, took a deep breath, and viewed my world.

“What happened to the tulip tree?” I said right out loud to the world in general. “It’s dying!”

What had I been doing these last couple of days that I had not noticed? Evidently, not working on this side of the house.

It looked as if the entire tree had been doused with herbicide of some kind, from the top down, because some of the underneath, inside leaves weren’t affected yet. The rest of the new leaves still were green but curled and brittle.

The last few days I’ve heard crop dusters spraying fields, buzzing overhead, back and forth. I usually come indoors when they are busy nearby because I don’t like breathing the air when it carries chemicals. Could this have harmed my trees? 

Then again, I use chemicals in my yard on occasion, too. I spray weed-killer in the garden in the spring before I plant tomatoes. I spray the edge of the lawn to keep it in its place. Could this have been me? 

Why this tree and not the Bradford pear that stands 20 feet away, I wondered, sitting down with my breakfast, having lost my appetite, sick at heart. My poor lovely tree.

Immediately, I Googled it: “What to do for a sick tulip tree.” And, of course, the answers flew across the screen.

“Perhaps it needs water,” was the first suggestion, and I knew that wasn’t the cause. We’ve been having rain, after all.

“Wash the tree,” was another suggestion. I looked up at the big, tall, wilting tree and realized this task would be formidable but I would try.

That’s Life 101, isn’t it? We win some — the peonies are blooming, the iris are lovely, the wheat looks good — and we lose some — my poor tree is suddenly sick. And what do we do?

We do what we can when tragedy strikes — whether it’s people, animals, or trees — and then we gather our wits and our tools and keep on keeping on.

At times like this, when we’ve had a setback of some kind, I search for something positive to do, like planting something.

We’ve been hunting for sage plants at the greenhouses. My sister tells me we’ve “jumped the gun,” doing our yard work earlier than last year. We couldn’t find sage plants. 

“Too early, yet,” the plant people said.

This week, we had success, and I’m looking around the yard for the sunniest spots to fill with sage — a drought tolerant and lovely blooming bush.

Yes, they were expensive — twice as much as in the past — but I’m so thankful that the greenhouse folks survived COVID and are still in business. 

My new weight-watching mantra will be: “Buy plants, not dessert.” I’m a firm believer that flowers are so much better for a person than sugar.

Both flowers and sugar are more expensive as our economy tries to right itself. I’m sure you’ve noticed. And the price of gas is making our eyes pop. But brace up, my friends. Even $4 a gallon is cheaper than what folks in California have been paying for gas for years. We’ve been lucky.

I tell myself that the price of commodities can be a good thing for all of us consumers. It gives us a chance, a reminder, to carefully evaluate what we really need and are there ways to conserve? After all, resources are limited.

I’m paying closer attention to where and when I go somewhere, if I can. I’ve always combined tasks when we travel outside of our little city limits. Travel is a necessity for any kind of services when you live in a town with its only business being the post office.

So I make a list of all the tasks to be accomplished when we find ourselves in a bigger town: groceries, library, gas (get a slice of pizza at the gas station at lunch — combining two tasks), hardware store, drop off eggs to a friend, pick up Jess’s glasses, get chicken food, plants, check on sage.

And we found it all, everything we needed and then some, heading home through the green rolling fields of our corner of Kansas, on another day in the country.

Last modified May 26, 2022

 

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