I dutifully mowed around my dead American chestnut. I can't remember if I updated you on this, but a few weeks ago, I e-mailed the guy who gave it to me, asking if it was normal for chestnut trees to leaf out well after everything else. He confirmed my suspicions--the tree was dead, likely the victim of some small animal that burrowed in and chewed up the roots (this is apparently a problem for American chestnut saplings). Still, I could not quite bring myself to uproot the sucker. It wasn't taking up much space, it was easy enough to mow around, and the way I figured it, it wasn't hurting anything by being there. I figured I could give it the whole summer and if it was still dead in the fall, out it comes and maybe I could try again.
Out of curiosity, I peeked in the tube that protects the seedling from hungry deer, rabbits, etc. And then....
Somehow, improbably, the little sucker is actually alive. I pulled the sleeve to get a better look, and this is what I found:
|It's a start|
Three little leaves, clustered out of one bud at the bottom of the seedling. The rest of it looks pretty dead, but that one bud is enough. I've seen trees that were blasted apart by lightning, hollowed out by fungi and bugs and birds until they were practically hollow, trees that have been toppled by wind or other trees, all still managing to grow and hang on to life. This little sucker was delayed, damaged by who knows what. It will almost certainly not grow straight, but that's okay. It lives. It's got a chance. It made my weekend a little bit better. What made you smile this weekend?