Saplings

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“Now this here tree,” John said, “this is a perfect example of what I mean.”

Something in his tone that suggested this was not the sound of John’s thoughts coming in to port, but rather a triumphant blast of the horn from the S.S. John’s Thoughts as it embarked on a voyage of discovery. Darrel was beginning to feel seasick.

“It’s young. Whippy. Gets swayed by every little breeze that comes through.”

Darrel suspected he knew where this might be going. His first talk at the conference hadn’t exactly been the best of his life.

“Someday – if it bides its time and survives a few storms—it’ll be a proper tree. Good deep roots, kind of branches that can really support something. Family of squirrels, maybe a bird feeder, if you’re in to that kind of thing.”

Darrel adopted what he hoped was a firmly rooted stance.

“People like of that sort of tree. Gives ’em shade, a sense of security. I’ve even heard of people naming a tree like that. But what they don’t think about while they’re depending on it, leaning back against it reading their paper, is that the difference between a tree like that and this skimpy little guy here just time and a little gumption, and if they want a nice solid tree in their community, they got to be prepared to give it a little time.”

Darrel might have gaped if he were a gaping man, but as it was he raised a cautious eyebrow before allowing himself a smile.

“That’s a nice way of looking at it.”

“Nice nothing,” John said. “It’s the truth. And thing of it is, you weather your storms and learn your lessons, and you might get to be a good, deep rooted tree for a spell. But time keeps on a-going. One of these days a storm knocks out a limb or two, people start whisper about rot, and casually mention it’s getting a little gnarled and unattractive, and the next thing you know they’re talking about cutting it down. First they think you’re too young, then before you know it, too old.” He cast Darrel a wicked grin and a wink. “That’s why trees live in forests son; it’s best if we grow together.”

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