Planting A Red Maple Tree

Writing is like getting ready to go on a date.

Some dates get the full treatment: long relaxing soak in the bathtub,  legs shaved, eyebrows plucked, washed and combed hair,  teeth brushed and flossed, mouthwash, tinted lip gloss, ironed shirt, perfume.  Writing like the full treatment date is where you  have the luxury of hours to prepare and think. Time to write and re-write,  write and re-write, and then to do it again.  There is no time deadline.  You could take longer to complete your story than it does to conceive and carry a child to term.

And other dates have no preparation beyond  a quick glance in the mirror to check for food in your teeth.    No foundation, eye-liner, mascara, or rouge.  Make-up  is like  lace on a dress. Or too many adjectives in a sentence, or too many “that’s” in a paragraph. “She realized  that he was really a frog.” –  or- ” She realized he was a frog.”  You don’t  need the “that”.

Today  my writing has a deadline. I don’t have time to make and deliver a baby in the next three hours.  I started to write three different slices this morning as I sat confused at the computer this morning at 5:30.  Tonight I have to put paper and a pen beside my bed, so that tomorrow morning if I get any ideas I can just grab the pencil and write them down in the dark, and not have to go downstairs and start typing before the house warms up.   I couldn’t decide which one to finish. Then it was time to go the doctor’s office to hear the results of the biopsy.

At 11:05 this morning  the doctor said to me in his office, ” All clear. The cancer did not spread.”  I told him I was very glad to have met him and that I hoped to never see him again.”  The sun seemed brighter, the grass greener when I walked outside.  I looked up at the sky, and I didn’t see any clouds.

On the way home I stopped at a nursery and picked out a  Red Maple tree to plant in the backyard. It will grow 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

I have planted trees before. In the backyard of a house on Homestead Avenue in Swansea Illinois is a Maple tree that was planted when I had a miscarriage. In the front yard is another tree planted  when my daughter’s budgie died. We had a ceremony and put the little paper casket in the bottom of the hole we dug for the tree. We planted a tree in California to celebrate our twentieth anniversary and another tree for mother’s day.

This weekend, I will dig a hole for the Red Maple.

A tree  to climb.

A tree for shade.

A tree to put down roots in Pennsylvania.

Have you planted any trees?  What do you do to commemorate an event in your life?


15 responses to “Planting A Red Maple Tree

  1. Congratulations on the good news. I can’t imagine how it made you feel.

    Curiosity: you’re working on a writing project with a deadline, you say?

  2. Love it! Yes to putting down roots. It can be hard when you are “transplanted” to the area – I often wonder what is my connection to this area other than I live here. We always talk about planting a tree but we don’t. I think we make the whole tree buying and planting process harder than what it truly is. Maybe we should reconsider a tree for this spring.

    By the way…. One of my favorite writing tips…. Get rid of every “that” that you can. Reread each sentence without the thats to see if it make sense. When I read your sentences about thats, I had to chuckle. :).

  3. What a beautiful (and deeply symbolic) thing to do as a commemoration. Trees are deeply rooted in the core of my imaginative life, especially the trees of northern Alberta, so your act of planting has a deep resonance for me.

    Your writing is so controlled and honest. Your inner ear and sense of rhythm and sound make your voice come through wonderfully. Have really taken to everything you’ve produced thus far! 🙂

  4. Oh, Pamela, I’m so glad for your news! I love the idea of blogging being like getting ready for a date. Perfect. (Sadly, so many of my blog dates are the no-food-in-my-teeth variety!)

    I also love your choice of red maple. It’s one of my favorite trees. We had a huge, gorgeous one in our front yard for two years when I was a kid. My brother and I practically lived in that tree. The vibrant color of the leaves, the lush canopy … it makes a lovely symbol for the gift of life and health.

    • If your blog posts are the no-food-in-my-teeth variety. I can not imagine how amazing the other kind of blogs would be. Thank you for sharing your tree memory 🙂

      • Well, thanks, but here’s a little “full disclosure” clarification: while last night’s post was definitely the “teeth check” kind, I’ve actually tried to give myself more time than usual since starting the challenge. I’m about to head out of town for a conference, so I feel a wave of teeth checking coming on!

      • Todays slice I tried to keep to 250 words. I had 249. A challenge for a shorter story to more concise. Looking forward to your slice today.

  5. Pamela, I rejoice with you on the doctor’s report! Your choice of celebration is perfect. A red maple is so stunning in the fall. We have one in the front yard and two in the backyard. Check out my picture in the post from Nov. 1 ( That’s from a red maple.
    I loved the analogy of getting ready for a date to writing. Such a great comparison!

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