There are some ADVANTAGES to growing old. (Not too many!) One of them is the interesting view you get as you look back on your life. We tend to see things as they are in the present. We can forget the past and only guess at the future.
But being old (four score and five, as I am) gives you a chance to see the results of your earlier activities. In this case what became of the tree you planted and the fence you built? And you, yourself, don’t feel much different, but how do you look to others in 2005?
In 1974, two years after Alberta and I built our "retirement dream home", we planted a tall, skinny maple sapling in our front yard near the garden. It was tall, about 20 ft. tall. It had stretched upward in competition with the other trees in our woods.
We had dug it up, and without much soil left on the roots, dragged it behind the tractor about a half-mile down the road to our yard. We planted it in the southwest corner of the lawn, watered it, and staked it up to keep the wind from blowing it over.
Well, maybe it would live! Maybe not! If not, there were more trees in the woods. We also planted a second maple tree farther along the garden fence. That second one seemed to do well for a while, but it died. We replaced it some years later and it is still there in 2005
"Charles Building Fence,July 1974"
"New tree, New Fence Aug. 1974"
About that same time in 1974 we cut ash and cedar trees in the woods and hauled them down to the yard near the barn to make a rail fence. After stripping off the bark we used the smaller ones for posts, and split the larger ones into rails using an axe, and wedges. We started each split with an iron wedge and made thicker wooden wedges to drive into the narrow crack started by the thin metal one. I had seen my father split cedar posts this way when I was a young kid at our camp. We would start at one end and as the split widened we would work our way down to the end.
"Alberta Peeling Posts and Rails 1974"
The cedar logs split fairly easily but most of them had a spiral, twisted grain and did not make a nice looking rail, so we began using ash for the rails. We found that ash split easily and straight. We wondered if the ash rails would last as long as the cedar, but after the test of 30 years or so we found they were fine. The cedar was better for posts as they lasted longer than ash in the soil.
Looking at the accompanying pictures adds a little perspective, a sort of then and now view.
"Old Fence, Old Tree, Old Charles, November, 2005"
"Old Fence, Old Tree, Old Alberta, November 2005"
Those taken in the summer of 1974, show us younger, in the summer of our lives-- with the young tree—and the new fence. Others, taken in the fall of 2005 show the "old us", the old tree, and the old fence in the autumn of our lives. The tree will outlast us. It will, no doubt, still be here after we, and the fence, are long gone.
Charles E. Page December17, 2005