Blogs for the Foreseeable - Trees that play dead. And spare squirrels.

Written by Helen Beecher Bryant

In about week 2 of lockdown, I received a letter from a man called Bob who is responsible for local trees. He asked if I would take care of the tree on the pavement and if I could liaise with my neighbour about sharing custody. I said I would. He thanked me, wishing myself and the tree, a happy and safe future.

I liaised with my neighbour. We named the tree ‘KaTREEna’ and started to share custody by watering her on alternate weeks. Awkwardly, in about week 4 of lockdown, Katreena appeared to have died. We weren’t quite sure what to do – having agreed to take custody of her, it was awkward that, two weeks in, she was dead.

We e-mailed Bob, or ‘Bob the Tree Man’, as I call him, airing our concerns and assuring him that we had watered Katreena consistently. Bob the Tree Man said that sometimes despite appearing dead, trees can defoliate due to lack of water at the beginning of the growing season, then may start to re-flush.

As if, I thought. Katreena was definitely dead.

In week 5 of lockdown, there was a knock at the door. I flung the door open – these days the only people who knock at the door are Steve the Hermes driver, who’s still got his Enterprise Rent-A-Car six weeks after someone crashed into his red van you know; a Tesco Fairy on occasional drop-offs (including during last night’s Region M&C Zoom meeting – sorry about that team), or a confused postperson – last Tuesday the postman handed me a package which had ripped slightly in transit; there were two beady eyes peering out through the bubble wrap – ‘I needed a spare squirrel’, I said to the postman as he confusedly handed me the package, then hurried away, never to return.

Anyway – this knock was Bob the Tree Man! He looked less like Superman than I had imagined but it didn’t matter. We walked to the tree and he explained again about defoliation and re-flushing. I was still not convinced.

My arboreal exploits did not seem to be in keeping with the sixth part of the Guide Law.

The story doesn’t end there. Two weeks after Bob the Tree Man’s visit, tiny new shoots appeared on Katreena’s arms, I mean branches, apologies. Each week since then, more and more shoots have evolved. She is a thirsty tree, but Bob the Tree Man was right. Katreena has come back to life, and is now thriving.

At this time in guiding, you might feel as though you are channelling what dwindling energy you have into trying to engage your girls, young women or volunteers. We are all churning out email after email, link after link, UMAs here, Skills Builders there, YouTube stuff, that quirky video about eighty million things to do with loo roll (which contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to radioactively disinfect prior to use); sometimes the response is so small that we question the energy; we lose heart. We ask ourselves why were persist when there seems to be little interest.

I had written Katreena off. She was dead to me. Dubiously, I kept watering, pointlessly I thought. What a waste of water.

Then the shoots grew.

Soon, she will flower.

That parent who hasn’t been in touch at all – she will e-mail you out of the blue. She’s just overwhelmed.

That young member you sent that card to – she won’t forget ripping open that envelope that was addressed to her – she doesn’t usually get post.

That volunteer you haven’t spoken to for fourteen weeks, but probably should have – pick up the phone to her – she’d love to hear from you; it’s never too late.

Keep watering, but be patient.

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