This fall-bright weeping willow is on a small island in the middle of Spring Lake, a short walk through the woods from our house. Every time I walk by the tree I mentally thank Denny Nielsen, who planted the tree and regularly rowed a boat out to water it during the willow’s infancy.
Denny and his wife Laurie were some of the first people to start living in Spring Lake Estates (south of Salem, near the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge) when the development sprang up in the early 1970s. They have moved out, but won’t be forgotten by the neighborhood weeping willow admirers.
Laurel has planted countless (more or less) trees herself, mostly on our land and a few on the common property surrounding the lake. Since some trees take a long time to reach maturity, this is a selfless activity that I much admire.
Laurel will happily plant a slow-growing tree that probably won’t attain an impressive height until both of us are dead and gone. Yet she takes heart in the thought that someone else will look at the tree, maybe in the next century, and be uplifted as much as Laurel is now by the centenarian trees we enjoy.
Thank you, Denny. Thank you, Laurel. Thank you to all the tree planters who are giving gifts to upcoming generations. Here’s an apt quotation:
He that plants trees loves others beside himself. (Thomas Fuller: “Gnomologia,” 1732)