Saturday, April 23, 2005

America's Sport

Every year my ex-boss, a couple other friends, and I go to a few afternoon baseball games. I am not a big sports fan. I don't know the players, I don't know the stat's, and I don't know their record. I usually don't even know who we are playing until we get to the park. But there is something magical about baseball.

Setting in the stands with friends on a sunny afternoon with bags of peanuts, boxes of cracker jacks, an adult beverage in a plastic cup and yes . . . the hotdog. There is also something magical about eating a hotdog at a ball game. They just taste better. Nowhere else can you get a hotdog with that same flavor. I am not a big hotdog fan but ball parks have great hotdogs.

Then there are the people and conversations. A few talk about work, some talk about the game, most are chatting about a wide variety of things until you hear the crack of the bat - then everyone's attention turns back to the game.

It is truly America's favorite sport.
Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Tree for Jimmy

It should have been an easy tree planting. All I had to do was explain to a class of third graders how to plant a tree and watch them plant it.

The teacher met me at the door and reminded me I was to explain how to plant the tree but the children were to do all the planting. I spent the next twenty minutes explaining to the kids how to properly plant a tree. It was almost spooky. They were all so quiet and attentive. The only time they talked was to ask questions.

Stepping outside my heart sank. There is was – the ugliest Newport plum tree I had seen in my life! The form was terrible. There were dead and broken branches all along one side. To make matters worse, the hole was dug in an area where hand mowing was needed. In a few years, if the tree lived that long, whoever was mowing the grass would certainly be cussing the fruit. ‘Technically’ it was going to be a bad planting: a poor tree, a poor site, a poor location.

Soon two of the boys were manhandling the basket. Fearing they would further damage the root ball I started to step in. The teacher grabbed my arm. She was smiling but in that teacher tone she reminded me, “The children need to plant this tree.”

Soon the tree was in the hole. A line formed and one by one the students took the shovel and threw in a little dirt. Then each one waited patiently to make a portion of the water berm. The line then formed again and one by one they took the hose and watered the tree for a brief second.

‘Technically’ it was planted too deep. ‘Technically’ the water berm was poorly constructed. ‘Technically’ it was only surface watered.

A little girl from the class slowly walked to the tree and placed a hand on the stem. She paused for a moment and smiled at the class. “We’re planting this tree for Jimmy,” she started. “We’re planting a Newport plum tree because Jimmy likes plums. Jimmy couldn’t be here today because he had to go back to the hospital. . .” and with that she started to cry.

As the entire class crowded in the comfort the little girl, the teacher once again grabbed my arm. She explained to me that Jimmy was terminally ill and the prognosis was not good. The kids wanted to plant a tree for Jimmy. They raised all the money needed to buy it. Suddenly all the ‘technical’ problems were no longer that important.

Jimmy’s tree will never be the greatest specimen in the community. It will probably struggle for years just to survive. In a few years the grounds keeper will no doubt curse the people who planted it. In years to come other third grade classes will laugh at the scrawny little tree. But, for the next few years that tree will be a symbol of love, hope, and compassion. That’s not a bad legacy for a tree, or for that matter, us.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Love April

Today is Arbor Day in Colorado. As a forester, you have to love it. Arbor Day started in Nebraska back in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton. Mr. Morton was a journalist and politician as well as the editor of Nebraska's first newspaper. That gave him the forum he needed to share information about agricultural practices and tree planting.

The intent was to set aside one day a year (in Colorado it always the third Friday in April) to plant trees. Notice I said the intent. It pretty well dominates my entire month and for the most part is a lot of fun. It makes a lot of the other "stuff" seem worthwhile.

My April is always full of City Council meetings talking about Arbor Day, tree planting events, and school programs. This year I have a lot of school programs, but no where close to my personal best of 94 school presentations set a few years back. I admit it, I really like the school programs and tree planting events a lot more than City Council meetings.

Early next week I will be putting up a story about one of the school planting I attended. It was probably one of the most touching school plantings I have ever been to. Kids are so honest.

Well, April will soon be over and than it be back to budgets and contracts. Until then, I am going to enjoy each and every tree planting and school event. Who know, I might even enjoy one or two City Council meetings.

Plant a tree. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Green Up

Three days ago there was twelve inches of snow in my driveway and even more in this park. Today it is all gone and from under all that wet, heavy snow emerged green grass. The snow shovel is now being placed next to the lawn mower. I don't know which one I will need next.

You have to love Spring.
Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Some of my favorite people (weather forecasters) have been telling us for three days to expect a blizzard. First it was on Friday - didn't happen. Then it was Saturday - didn't happen (actually I was quite glad it didn't, I had to drive across the State). Then Sunday - well, after three guesses they got it right. I am not sure I would call it a blizzard, maybe a snowstorm, but here is how it unfolded at my house.

3:00AM: The wind woke me up. But no snow.
4:00AM: The snow started.
6:30AM: We cancelled church. Okay, we didn't cancel it, just decided not to go.
9:30AM: Finally get up. Have to admit it was pretty nice to sleep in.
10:00AM: A little breakfast listening to all the weather forecasters telling us to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
10:20AM: Had to go out - it was absolutely necessary. I need to see how bad the roads were. Things were not nearly as bad as they made them sound.
10:50AM: Home.
11:00AM: I am now considering taking a nap.

You have to love snow days.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dust Bowl

I have been known to be a little vocal about the inaccuracy of weather forecaster on our local television channels. Okay, I’ve been known to be quite vocal about their uncanny ability to get it wrong 97% of the time, crack a joke and draw a large paycheck. Anybody else with that poor of a track record would be looking for another job. But, in their defense they did hit it right today. They said we would have high winds ranging from 40 – 60 MPH most of the day.

Two to four times a week I make a joyful little 122 mile round trip drive from Denver to Fort Collins. On my return trip yesterday the radio said the winds were blowing at 60 MPH with gusts to 80 MPH. Please keep in mind, radio weather forecasters are only a step above those on TV. But the wind was blowing and it was blowing hard. Visibility was limited because of all the dust in the air. It was like we were in the dust bowl.

Back in the 1930’s the mid-west experienced the dust bowl. I’ve read stories, seen photographs, and even had the privilege of visiting with a school teacher (no, not my wife) who lived through that era. It was a hard and dirty time. The school teacher from Nebraska told me that an hour before school she would wash all the desks to get the dust off. Only to have the desks completely covered with dust by noon. My adventure on the interstate was not nearly as difficult or as lengthy as what they had to deal with. I am sure by tomorrow the wind will die down and it will be a nice day. But for an hour it was a little worrisome.

Cliff wrote a poem about losing a bag of bean seed due to high winds. Hang on Cliff, something from Colorado is heading your way.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Getting Back to Normal

The last couple of weeks have been painful to say the least. The service went well, we put our daughter back on a plane, and Sunday decided to try to get back “to normal” or at least as close as we could. Things were going fine until Monday morning.

At 4:30 in the morning, the alarm went off. Because I have a hard time sleeping, I haven’t heard that alarm in months. So, when it went off, I knew something was wrong. My body also told me something was amiss with 4:30 being that early. All day I have been telling myself we elected these people that thought switching the time twice a year was a great idea.

Judging by some of the names that I assigned them - things might be getting back to normal.