The Errant Arborvitae


It’s not my fault! I followed all the instructions to the letter: The size of the hole, the root prep, the topsoil backfill, watering, and mulching. IMG_0074

Last Spring, I planted thirty-one six-foot tall columnar arborvitaes. The first thing that went wrong was that they delivered thirty-one when I had purchased and paid for just thirty. Right off the bat, I had to go back to Menards and pay for the extra one. I could hardly return it, right? Then, I had to dig one more hole. These trees came in individual five gallon sized containers. So each excavation had to be larger than that. It took a couple of days to accomplish that; dig a hole, rest, drink water, resume digging.

The evening when they were delivered, it was almost dark. As the two guys unloaded the truck, I used a hand cart to lug each tree to its appointed hole in the ground. I guess the semi darkness explains the extra tree.

The next morning planting began, twenty-six in one row along the west property line, and four (now five) along the east  line. You should not interpret this as an indication of which neighbor I get along with best. The planting went like this.

Tip the tree on its side, remove the plastic container, manhandle the root ball into the hole, apply root feeder, water, fill the hole with good topsoil, water, make sure the tree is straight. Repeat. Thirty more times.

The next day, the westerly neighbor came over, admired my work and noted that the northernmost tree was tilting to the east. Wearily I replied, “It’ll straighten up”. A few days later, after a heavy rain, I sneaked out and gave that errant tree a big shove to the west. Done.

We had a lot of rain last year, so more than once, I had to shove that arborvitae back to an upright stance. Now, early this Spring, we had three inches of rain overnight along with heavy winds. There was that unruly tree pointing east toward Lake Michigan again. I rummaged through the garage and found a length of galvanized pipe and some rope, pounded the pipe into the ground on the west side of the tree, and tied it up with the rope. Done.

Except that the very next day, we had more rain, coupled with an unusual wind shift from the east. West and northwest, sometimes southerly, but NEVER does the wind come from the east. Now, my errant arborvitae was serenely leaning to the west against the stake, the rope just limply hanging there. Back to the garage. Found an old broom handle. Pounded it into the ground on the east side of my tree (with excessive force I might add). Retied the rope to center the tree. Rested. Done.

I think I’m going to name this tree “Bob”. Because as I watched it moving this way then that, I was reminded of this Bible verse, Ephesians 4:14 (NLT) “We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” And God said, substitute “Bob” for “we”.

IMG_0074 (1)

The preventive remedy given in the previous verses is to learn biblical truth and listen to sound doctrine. Like two stakes in the ground, these are my anchors whenever I doubt, or am tempted to believe some “new truth”. I’m spending much of this time of isolation re-reading books by great teachers on sound doctrine and biblical truth. That, along with my daily Bible reading and my Pastor’s recorded sermons helps to keep me upright. Like two stakes and a piece of rope, these will hold up my faith whenever the next wind blows from an unexpected direction.




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