It goes like this: The air is cool and sun warm on bug-free bare skin, I’m drinking a beer and playing guitar on my front porch, and for the first time I manage to sing this song I’ve been working on for months all the way through without stumbling over words, most of them variations of “against the wind,” which tells you something about how good I am with song lyrics. Still, I’m as happy as God in France, which our Dutch friends say is a common saying in Holland, which tells you something about French wine and women that evidently the Dutch envy. My eyes lazily unfocus into the distance, and there it is – a volunteer tree, usually an elm, popping up somewhere it’s not supposed to be, that is, popping up most anywhere. I find shears and whack it, and if I’m feeling really good, I paint what’s left with undiluted Roundup like my neighbor Boomer taught me to do.
So when I saw an ad for Volunteer Tree Planting in a local newspaper, I thought, “This is made for me.” Dig a few holes, dump some dirt over a few scrawny seedlings and in return I get a free lunch, probably fish and chips and amber ale over at the Brewery, together with effusive thanks from Mayor Dave and exemption from city sales tax for a year.
Now it’s ordinarily not advisable for a married man like myself to be perfectly honest on the subject, but I also imagined alternating shovel scoops with some beautiful woman who would say, “Say, mister, you sure know how to handle your ... tools,” and I would return modestly, “Aw shucks, ma’am, I do a lot of volunteer tree planting at my place.”
OK, so all of the above turns out a fantasy. Nothing new there.
The reality is that Mill Creek Parkway at 100 South and just west of 100 West, if you haven’t been down there lately, has been cleared of tamarisk, leaving a thick layer of mulch and wide-open spaces. The problem is that nature abhors a vacuum, as a gardener might say. Physicists might say the same thing with the diffusion equation, J = D dn/dx, which just says that a) stuff tends to spread out; and that b) physicists can be pointlessly and precisely nerdy. Either way, in an effort to preempt Mother Nature, Utah’s Division of Natural Resources, the city of Moab, the Youth Garden Project and about 25 volunteers, a fair fraction of them Olsens, did indeed dig a bunch of holes on a glorious May morning and fill them with stuff like grass, sage and three-leaf sumacs, even if mine had a lot more than three leaves, which tells you a lot about what an expert volunteer tree planter I am.
Hey, it felt good to help out, and I hope the new stuff hangs in there. Tamarisk is one tough customer.