The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Tree

by Lori Bohenkamp

Special For The Quill

Have you ever thought of trees as anything more than living plants all around the environment?

I never thought of them as more than immovable, shade providing objects growing out of the ground.

Do they have feelings? Does the tree suffer when it is chopped down. I never gave it much thought. My experience with an old pecan tree gave me reason to pause and consider it.

On the backlot of our property stands a huge pecan tree. I don't know it's exact age. My husband, Rick, thinks it has to be pushing a hundred at least. It was there when I married Rick and moved to Lomax almost thirty years ago. It hasn't changed much during that time. Big and massive is a good way to describe it.

In the early years of my living in Lomax, the tree would produce pecans every year. My next door neighbor and I would pick them up and share them.

After several years, for no apparent reason, the tree stopped producing. The tree would leaf out in the spring, but there wouldn't be any nuts on it. There were parts of the tree that didn't leaf out. I thought the tree was just getting too old and was probably dying.

Whenever a storm would hit, branches and sometimes even a limb would be blown off. The ground would be littered with debris. I got so tired of cleaning up the messes from the old pecan tree every time we had a storm.

I discussed with Rick cutting the tree down. "Are you sure you want to do that?" he asked.

"It hasn't produced nuts in ten years. I have to clean up the yard every time the wind blows," I moaned. "I'm sick of it!"

A few days later, Rick came home from work and stated, "I found a guy willing to cut down the pecan tree for the wood." Again he asked, "You sure you want to do this?"

I had a funny feeling inside. Did I really want the old tree cut down? Was I having feelings for the tree? This was ridiculous I thought. All I said to Rick was, "I don't know."

"When you decide, let me know," he said.

For several days I struggled with my emotions. My head told me to cut the tree down. My heart told me not to. It was crazy. There is no sentimental value in a tree. It's just a tree I kept telling myself.

After a week or so Rick asked, "So, what do you want to do about the tree?"

I knew what I was about to say would sound ridiculous. The tree hadn't produced in ten years. It was more trouble than it was worth.

"Let's give it one more year." I said. "If it doesn't produce, then we'll cut it down."

"Whatever," Rick grunted. He walked away muttering to himself, "Women never could make up their minds."

I started going out in the yard from time to time to talk to the tree. "If you don't' produce, we're going to cut you down. Is that what you want, to be made into a desk or a chair?"

My daughter, Emily, picked up on what I was doing. One day I overheard her talking to the tree. "You don't want to die do you? You better get with it. Don't just stand there do something."

The following spring I watched the old pecan tree closely. It leafed out like it always did. Then low and behold the tree started growing pecans.

The year following the death threat, the old tree produced more pecans than I had ever seen before. There were so many pecans I gathered up boxes and boxes full. I gave them away to relatives and friends and still had plenty for myself. I picked up pecans from the end of September through December. I'd pick them up and a week or two later the ground would be covered.

One friend I shared the pecans with several times over those months said, "I never saw a tree produce like that." She and her husband just had to come over and see the amazing tree.

I told her the story of how we had planned to cut the tree down. Jokingly I said, "The poor tree was so terrified of being cut down it produced this fantastic bumper crop."

"Hmmmm, that's interesting," she replied.

The greatest pecan harvest was about eight years ago now. The tree still has a year now and then when it doesn't produce any nuts. The last couple of years it has only produced one box of nuts each year.

I'm not going to threaten it again. The tree did let me know it didn't want to be cut down. I have sentimental feelings for it now. I wanted to hug the old tree the year it produced the huge amount of nuts. The trunk is about four feet across, so I couldn't get my arms around it if I tried. Still I believe the tree somehow knows I care about it.

The old pecan tree stands very majestic there in the back lot of our property. I still clean up the messes after the storms. I still talk to it from time to time. I say things like, "You sure are a special tree.

Thank you for all the nuts you have given us over the years." I don't care if it ever again produces pecans or not. I'll never cut it down.