Friday, December 13, 2013

Brandy on the Old Homestead

This was Brandy, the horse I loved and wrote about a few days ago. I didn't have a good close-up photo handy at the time, so I asked my sister to send one.

Looking at this picture makes me remember with fondness so many good times in that pasture. See the tall pines in the "back forty" (on the left of our fence)?  I remember helping Daddy plant 450 pine saplings. I was 12 years old; it was the summer of 1977, a year after we moved to our three-acre farmette in Dublin, Maryland.

Daddy marked straight rows with rope, I think, and tied a red bandana around a point on my 26" bicycle tire.  How far apart should one plant pine trees that will be some 40-50 feet high at maturity? Whatever that distance was, Daddy had researched or made a well-educated guess, and had calculated how many rotations of the tire it would take between holes.

We joked about how our tree-planting talk sounded like a  mixed up mantra of what to do if you're ever on fire.   Instead of "stop, drop, and roll," the bike-pushing/hole-digging/plant-placing routine became "roll, stop, and drop."

The memory of that day is sweet; Daddy was so patient, loved to work, enjoyed the math, relaxed in the great outdoors, got to be with his girls doing something productive. The quintessential conservationalist, engineer, and father.

When the saplings were three years old, they were tall enough to be Christmas trees. That was fun to pick our tree from our own property. Of course we never cut them down; we dug them up, and after Christmas, if the ground was warm enough, we'd help  Daddy replant it.  One year the ground was so frozen in early January  that Mama decided to keep the tree up until the American hostages were released in Iran.  

Funny how one photo can bring back a flood of memories.  And how the smell of a pine tree at Christmas makes me feel like I'm 12 again.

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