He digs a one-hundred dollar hole for a twenty dollar tree. The soil, he mixes with his shovel. "How long will it take for these to grow?" I ask.
The spindly branches are held up by a single trunk. They are dwarfed only by the trees that surround the nearby creek. In the field directly south of the apple trees, elm trees have grown to be about the size of the apple trees. "That will be our windbreak for our trees," he says, as he tamps the soil around the trees.
We decide two trees would be enough to take care of. After all, we remember last summer, the high temperatures, the wilted plants, and the poor harvest. But once two are planted, he asks, "What do you think about two more apple trees?" So we look. We order two more trees and three raspberry bushes. The next two trees come as just bare trunks with pruned branches. They don't need the same care as the previous two trees with branches and leaves. "It's our mini-orchard," he says. The next day we protect the trees with a surrounding fence to keep out deer.
"Do you think we will be here to gather their apples?" I ask. When I was a kid, planting trees usually meant that within a year or two we'd move. At least, that is what it seemed like then. I wonder what is the use of planting trees when they may not survive, or when a move is imminent? We can imagine our boy hanging in the limbs of the big elms along the driveway, and picking apples from the tree to throw at the critters. But will we be here?
Will we be here to see the moon and stars shimmer through the bare branches in winter as the shadow of the trees glimmer across the snow? Or in the spring, when fragrant blossoms blow from the branches casting their white petals across the front lawn? Yet, we plant. We plant hoping to see the trees grow. We plant, dreaming of the future. We plant, knowing that we may not be here. We plant, for the next generation. We plant, knowing that the trees are at the mercy of the weather.
The future may be uncertain, and yet we plant. Life goes on living even when unpredictable. How do you deal with and accept change? Do you keep 'planting your orchard', or do you give up before you start?
"For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted..." Ecc. 3:1-2