Our Family Tree

This post has nothing to do with genealogy or my family’s ancestry. It is about a real tree.

Four years ago, we planted an apple tree in our backyard. It is a 5-in-1 tree. That means it has 5 varieties of apples – Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Golden Delicious – all grafted into one tree.

Here is a photo right after we planted it. My wife was lovingly trimming it and placing rich soil, fertilizer, and mulch around it.

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Due to the many wandering deer in our area, we have to put a fence around our young tree to prevent it from being dinner (or breakfast) for hungry animals. They eat twigs, leaves, and all, not just the flowers or fruits.

Below is a picture when I was putting up a fence around it.

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On its second year, it only produced a couple of fruits. They were small, and we did not even had the chance to taste it as they fell to ground before we can even pick them.

After three years it grew much taller that we felt we can liberate it from its protective barrier, so we took out the fence. It also bore more fruits, and this time we were able to taste the produce of our family tree.

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Above is a photo of our tree last year. Note that the lower branches were bare, as deer nibbled on them. My son was trying to pick the apples, but it was beyond his reach.

Too high? No problem. He used a ladder!

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We were able to picked 5 or 6 apples last year. Not bad at all.

This year our tree really blossomed. Here it is this last spring, full of flowers and full of promise of a bounty harvest.

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We had so many budding fruits this early summer that we have counted more than 100 apples.

As summer turned into fall, which is the time for picking, we were unable to harvest them all. Some fell before we can get them. And some simply disappeared. There must be some mysterious apple thieves in our neighborhood, or maybe it was the pesky deer.

Yet there were still plenty of apples left to go around. Here are red apples of the Gala variety in one branch.

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Here are the green apples of the Granny Smith variety in another branch.

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You can notice that due to its many fruits, the weight of the apples made the branches of our tree stoop low. Thus, making it more reachable for us. And that is so true in life – the more fruitful one gets, the more giving it becomes.

Here’s my daughter picking an apple, way within reach.

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We are looking forward to several more fruitful years from our family tree. We are hoping that in the coming years, we would be able to taste all the five varieties of apples from our tree.

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I know, this tree will outlive me provided that it is nurtured and cared for. Maybe my children or my children’s children will enjoy its fruits even after I am gone, if they choose to stay in this house. And even if we move out of here, still somebody else will benefit from it. Not a bad legacy, I would say.

Or if tomorrow, our family tree will get bulldozed by a rampaging buck or chopped down by a deranged axman, at least I already immortalized it in the world of blogosphere.

Our Leaning Tree

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a famous structure in Italy for its unintended tilt to one side. It had been leaning for more than 800 years. The cause of the lean was determined to the fact that it was erected in a weak and unstable soil. It was leaning more than 5 degrees before the multimillion dollar restoration and stabilization in the past decade that reduced its lean to less than 4 degrees. Experts claimed that it will be stable for at least another 300 years.

In front of our house is a leaning tree. It has a tilt of about 60 degrees. I am not sure how long it has been leaning. As far as I know, when we moved in to our house seven years ago, it was already been like this. (Good thing is our house is not leaning.) I am not sure also what caused the tree to lean. I could only speculate.

There could be many causes of why a tree would lean. One is a weak root structure causing inadequate anchor. Another is if it is competing with another tree nearby causing it to lean away from the more dominant tree and towards the open sunlight. One more reason is if it was exposed to a natural disaster like a very strong wind or storm in the past that almost uprooted it or pushed it to lean.

After considering the possibilities, I would like to believe that the last reason I mentioned was the cause of why our tree leaned. Maybe years ago, in our tree’s early life, it was subjected to a tornado-like wind gust that almost shoved it down. But it kept its grip to life. It defied the force that almost brought it down. And somehow, it has this innate strength that continues to defy the pull of gravity now. Moreover, it continued to grow and flourish.

my son trying to set our tree upright, or so he thought

I really don’t mind that it is leaning. I have no intention to correct its tilt. There is no reason to. In fact, I like it. It is a constant reminder to us that this tree has weathered a great storm, and its tilt is a testament to its tenacity and resilience.

Are we also weathered and worn-out by the storms? Do we also cling with such steadfastness even if we are almost down to our knees? Borrowing a quote from the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (which is also the inspiration of Kelly Clarkson’s popular song): “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

How many more years will our tree display its lean for all the world to see? Only time will tell.