This morning I was supposed to write, a self-imposed expectation. But other things kept running through my mind, leaving a nagging, unsettling feeling in my gut.
Ever since I committed myself to getting more serious about writing, about four years ago, I have pretty much done what I expected of myself. I have been more successful than I could ever have imagined at the start, and I still get pleasant surprises coming my way.
But today was different somehow.
A windstorm that accompanied a cold front and welcome rain earlier in the week split the trunk at the lowest fork and bent one of the native trees that I had planted a few years ago when it was about two feet tall. It was a beautiful goldenball leadtree, growing vibrantly and loaded with fuzzy golden balls. At its height before the storm, it reached over twenty feet tall.
Two days ago I sadly took my pruning shears and saw and cut off the smaller branch coming off the split fork. As I cut off each branch from that part of the tree, it lifted its head a little more with each cut but did not totally straighten itself. The split in the trunk went downward about the length of a table knife.
This tree was on my mind when I got up this morning, so much so that I could not bring myself to start writing. I had begun to worry about bugs getting inside the split and further damaging the remaining tree.
“Okay,” I said silently to myself, “after breakfast I will fix it in the best way I know how.” A while later, I went to the garage and began collecting the needed tools. I needed a cordless drill, a 3/8th-inch bit and a bolt of that diameter, a tape measure, and two small wrenches.
Then I measured the diameter of the trunk near the top of the split, 2 ¼ inches. I drilled a single hole through the tree, inserted the bolt, placed a washer on the bolt, and tightened the nut snugly.
I noticed a few small ants, about half the length of a grain of rice, crawling around the split. Some of them may have been inside the split when I tightened the bolt. I heard none of them screaming for help, but as I said last week my hearing is not as good as it once was. As I think about it, I never heard an ant scream in my youth.
Anyway, with the tree repaired with the bolt holding it together, I sprayed pruning dressing over the cut, each end of the bolt, and along the split along each side to seal it from insects and weather. If all goes as planned, the tree will grow around each end of the bolt, cover it over, and proceed toward maturity.
As I finished and began putting my tools away, I noticed a small piece of quarter-round on my workbench that had come loose at the bottom of our new kitchen cabinets where they meet the floor. I had laid it on my workbench several days ago to fix “later.”
Since it would take less that five minutes, I would delay my writing a bit longer. I selected a small finishing nail to replace the wire nail that the contractor had shot with an electric hammer into the quarter-round. The top of the little nail had bent and had been pressed into the wood. I removed the bent nail, drove in the new one, and hammered it firmly in place where it had come loose from the floor. Done!
After those two chores were done, my mind was at last cleared to write. Rather than writing on the topic I had planned, I decided to write about the uncontrollable urge to fix the tree, and then my last-minute decision to reattach that small piece of quarter-round.
This blog post is the result of how my original plan went astray. This post also allows me to tell many of you about the spectacular goldenball leadtree that grows in many places in Central Texas. That’s why we wanted one in our landscape. That’s why I was compelled to try to save the tree rather than cut it down entirely.
If the tree succumbs to a future storm, I will have to remove it. But in the meantime, we get to watch its progress—we hope.
Now I have accomplished more than I had planned for today. I had only planned to write. Now I have made two needed repairs, and I have written.
And it will be several hours before the sun goes down. Ellen just got back from the carwash after a very busy morning. Toward the end of the day she and I will celebrate our small successes.
It doesn’t take much to make us happy.