It was with a great deal of joy and a little trepidation that my son Doug and I moved into a brand new house on an acre of land. It was also a challenge just thinking about what to put where and how to make it our home.
Doug had arranged to have a detached two-car garage attached to a six-foot fenced back yard giving us access from the back of the house. He then proceeded to add a beautiful split rail fence around the front and a t-bar fence to the remaining back portion of the land. He was a busy boy that first year and it just kept growing.
When I look around at the very beautiful yard surrounding our home, I can’t believe all that he’s done. We have a nice grass yard in back with plain ground around it for the puppies and an assortment of trees and rose bushes. It’s the trees that are an interesting feature, especially the “apple” tree.
We have two supposed non-bearing plum trees with tons of tiny mysterious fruit. We also have an “apple”, pear and peach tree. These three don’t bear fruit! Our mysterious apple tree sits in the back yard, looking like something half dead, like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But it continues to fight on — year after year — sitting there with a couple dozen bare branches every six inches or so, with a leaf or two on each.
In the second of the eight years we’ve been here, my daughter-in-law Earlene looked at that sad apple tree and announced, “if we had any sense, we would pull that sorry specimen out of the ground.” I had other thoughts, remembering the famous olive tree that grew on my front lawn in Fresno. I remember somebody telling me “that olive tree was dead and why didn’t I pull it out of the ground?”
During our second year here, Doug put in a complete, 1,500-foot sprinkler system all by himself with instructions from our local hardware store. I don’t have a clue how he did it by himself? The only other help Doug’s had was for the installation of the concrete walkways. Everything else he managed with rented equipment and a lot of sweat equity. We have a beautiful front and back yard. I’m proud of what he’s done.
I’ve written before about the issues we’ve had with an assortment of problems with the well, etc., and items in the house that have broken down, one at a time. You know when you buy a home that this is par for the course, and you simply take care of what needs to be done. The time frame is most predictable, usually starting at about five years, just after the warrantees expire. Our home is no different.
We just had a new water pump installed. This really perturbs Doug; however, I’ve owned a few homes and take things with a grain of salt. It’s to be expected. I just smile a lot. Doug; the pessimist, is different. He frowns a lot. Of course he’s the poor soul who has to dig up a ton of dirt to find a leak, or climb down under the house with the snakes and bugs, not me!
Let’s discuss something about the true meaning of that “apple” tree for me. This is for those young people who just might be reading this old ladies column. You never, and I do mean never, give up on anything you think is worthwhile doing. In 1983, just months before my husband Van died, I’d begun writing a novel. Some years after his death, a friend reminded me that I’d promised finish my novel “Tombstone and Tumbleweeds.”
Ashamed, I admitted I hadn’t done so. So I got busy, finished it, and without really much hope sent it to the first publisher in a list starting under the A’s, Avalon Books. Just two weeks later I got a call from the head editor stating they were going to publish my very first novel. OK, so it didn’t become famous; however it did get published. A copy is in the Nevada authors’ section of our library.
Just like that silly apple tree that’s fighting to survive, I’ll never quit. As I reach my 90th birthday next month, I gain solace with life’s daily issues from that tree. I won’t pull it out of the ground; it deserves a chance to live and grow old.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.