A "Green" Birthday...

For my birthday this year we planted 50 trees and a dozen or more flowering plants. The women did most of the work. That is, my wife and her mother and aunt. I did the heavy lifting, measuring and made sure everything ended up properly spaced, alined and aesthetically pleasing. The aunt dug most of the holes while my wife and her mother did the planting and fertilizing. We hire people for most jobs but sometimes you just want to get down and dirty.

It rained throughout the night so the ground was softer than normal and the sky was still overcast, at least for the morning hours. We were still in bed when a truck drove up with the delivery of 50 trees we had ordered but were not expecting on the day. We gave them directions to where to put the trees but of course they got it wrong and I had to haul them all over the site by hand.

We have been adding fruit trees a couple at a time and had grass planted on the slopes to stop the erosion. This was our first chance, however, to do a major planting along the sides of the property as some of the construction material has been cleared up recently.

Planting trees and growing things in general gives you a good feeling but aside from that there are many practical reasons. They look good, help demarcate the property line, provide some privacy, shade and windbreak and protect against erosion. Then there is the politically correct, global warming position, of planting trees as a counterbalance to our need to purchase a gas guzzling diesel pickup truck.

In our area the forest continues to be cut down and burned to grow other things that they think might make some money. It means they have to go much further to find their jungle food and things like bamboo and mushrooms. The wild animals that used to be in the area have long since disappeared or moved to safer environs.

The soil is also highly degraded from generations of monoculture rice farming. I don’t know that anything we do in the area will have a positive effect on the environment or on the lives of the local villagers but one can always hope and dream. In the very least we will try not to make things any worse than they already are.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I didn’t start out with the idea of planting trees to save the world or any thing so grand. It wasn’t a birthday gesture either. That is just the way it worked out and birthdays have never been much of a high point for me, anyway. Except for my wife writing me the most amazing birthday cards, that would make even the hardest guy melt, I could do without birthdays altogether.

The forties were great but the fifties have been hard work, as I become more aware of my limitations. I can’t say I like getting old or the effect it has on my body. My problems don’t come so much from sloth but from overdoing on the squash court. I took too much pride in playing more, longer and harder than the other guys who were usually much younger. Finally I went one injury too far.

That was when I turned 50 and it took a while to recover and find new exercise outlets. I don’t get the same physical rush from weight lifting, hiking, jogging or bike riding but I do get a real sense of inner peace and get to see some really pretty stuff. Much of what I still want to do and see in life requires that I stay fit enough to do it. 

Having a sport made exercise much easier for me. Now I am having those internal dialogs that I had heard about before. You know, all those excuses for why I can’t get it done today. Well I’m still a work in progress but like to think that I’m getting better and more consistent. I’m definitely still not where I want to be but I’ll get there, I hope.