The Small Tree that Was Really Big

by Jean Suzanne Swenson

It was one of those fall days that finally felt like fall. There was a good morning chill in the air and creeping fog was working its way into all the nooks and crannies.  You knew once it cleared it would be a wonderful sunny day. I was going to the Tilth for their Harvest sale where each fall they put together vendors with harvested goods and plants and trees for fall planting.

So, along with me was a friend and we were headed into the sale specifically looking for a small tree we could each put in a pot. We wanted something tiny that might grow into a medium size tree. Mine would be for the corner of the front deck providing some needed privacy and shade.

We found a vendor specializing in small trees or so it seemed.  He had a number of two and three foot maples and the leaves were spectacular in color. They were bright green with a tinge of red seams on the leaf. We both chose our little sapling, feeling lucky they were small enough to fit in the back seat of the car although there tops did hit the ceiling, but only just.

I planted mine in a pot on the deck the very next day. And every two years it seemed to be bursting out of the seams and we would need to transplant it into a bigger pot. When I brought the little tree home my son was a young boy. Each time we would transplant the tree he was getting older and stronger and able to help me lift the now 12-foot tall monster into a bigger and bigger pot. After the bigger pot it was just a few more years and the poor tree was root bound and unhappy - again.

I said to my almost adult, son, “It looks like we’re not going to find a pot big enough this time,”

He pondered and said, “But we could roll it down the stairs off the deck and into the corner of the yard and plant it in the ground. I think we could get it out of the pot together, dig a hole, put it in and see what happens.”

So on that very day, together with all the muscle we could muster we rolled the now hugely big tree, all 20 plus feet of her now, down the stairs and into the corner, as carefully as we could.

And when we pulled her out of the pot she was planted where she landed.  As soon as she was into the ground you could see how much she needed to be there and how happy she was.

The tree today is a very huge maple and she is right below where she was on the deck for decades. She is a beautiful, green and lovely tree. I always remember the little three foot sapling I brought home and all those years and transplanting on the deck.

Now she is a regal, shady and loved tree in the front of our house. She is beautiful in every way and has the greenest leaves I’ve ever seen. In the fall she turns remarkable colors. She makes us feel like we live in a tree house, her tree house.

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