I had known the day was coming, and I had avoided it for as long as possible.
“It’s time,” the Beloved would say. I’d tell her I knew and then I’d find an excuse not to think about it some more. Finally, I acquiesced.
It was time to move the tree. And it was breaking my heart a little.
You see, during my first year in California, I was living alone in a small and mostly empty apartment, just having split up with She Who Must Not Be Named. Wanting to do something positive, I bought a little live pine tree for a Christmas tree. It was maybe two feet tall. Very Charlie Brown.
That was 12 years ago.
That tree came with me out of my apartment and into Stately Betz Manor, where admittedly, it had kind of a hard time. My balcony was shaded and faced northeast. Not great for a plant that needed a lot of sun. Once, I received a letter from the HOA instructing me to remove my “dead tree” from my property. I told them where they could stick that idea because my tree wasn’t dead.
About that time, the Beloved and I moved into The Aerie and she took on the job of reviving the tree. It flourished in a new pot, enjoying a lot more sunlight, and the TLC from a better gardener than me. Here he is in December 2007 back doing Christmas tree duties eight months after we moved in.
The tree added rings and continued to grow. More sun, good soil, and water and by 2010 he was already taller than me.
This year, as his top branches skimmed the floor of our upstairs deck, it was clear that he was outgrowing his pot — outgrowing our patio. And earlier this year a wind storm knocked him over since he is so top-heavy now. So I connived a couple of friends (who have better tools and younger muscles) to help us relocate the tree to the hillside across the street from our house.
We started by finding a site that we thought would be okay and hacking out a decent enough hole in the rocky dirt. We amended the hole with a bit of richer soil and then I brought his pot out and then gently removed him and took him to his new home.
We fixed the hole so that he was good and straight and tried to make it so that the area drained well. We carried up some buckets of water to soak the area and we’ll probably continue to do so until the fall-winter rains kick in here in Southern California.
In the end, it didn’t take us that much time — maybe an hour or so. The backyard now seems emptier, but we can see him from the front of the house easily. And it might sound silly, but I hope he knows how special a tree he’s been for me and for us. I’m sure some decorations will find their way to him in a couple months.
Time will tell, of course, how this new phase takes, but I hope he sends his roots deep into the earth around him and hope he grows tall and proud and continues to watch over The Aerie long after we’re gone from it.