After Damage, Strength

My neighbor calls out a hearty hello and informs me that she planted a plum tree in her side yard, inspired by my own growing orchard. But alas, I report: I tell her that my second plum tree–the one in the pot on the back deck–suffered great damage in the last late snowfall and all the branches and leaves turned grey and ashy. The frostbitten tree has not put out any leaves since! But it’s not dead. It’s still looks very much alive with greening branches and a strong little trunk.

She flaps her hands towards me as if to say, “Don’t worry about it!” and then says, “It grows back stronger next year. You’ll see the leaves next year.”

Stronger next year! Yes! I can live with that.

Now what? I prune away the frostbitten branches and let all the damage heal by regular watering and care in its new place in the ground. I’ll see nothing this year, but as long as the roots aren’t too damaged, I’ll have a stronger plant this time next year. I’ll fertilize in the fall and report back to you this time next year.

I love the lesson: I remember to lower my expectations for myself and others after frostbitten seasons of loss, hardship, or grieving. Don’t worry about anything. This time next year, you’ll come back stronger with some new leaves to show for it.

(PS: I also learned that my neighbor planted a self-pollinating kind of plum! Maybe those are the seeds I had which means I might just see plums next year after all. Having this kind of hope in might heart might just carry me all winter long.)

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