No Time for Saplings

No Time for Saplings May 1, 2012

It’s almost graduation weekend at the University where I teach. A high value is always placed on quality landscaping and a pleasing aesthetic for the campus, but especially so when parents and alumni gather. Then the campus needs to be in prime condition, pleasing to the eye. And I am not against this by any means. I think to myself every day that I walk from the parking garage to my office how fortunate I am to work in such a beautiful place. But beauty comes at a price. Sometimes you have to sacrifice patience.
Several years ago, a moderate sized tree right in front of the Chapel died at a very inconvenient time. Right before graduation. As I was walking by on my way to the library I saw a workcrew spray painting the leaves green. Later in June they replaced the tree. And some wiseacre collected the spray painted leaves and made keychains out of them. I still have mine somewhere.

Yesterday I was walking from my office to the garage and noticed another aesthetic procedure in process. This time it was on the Boulevard which features a long row of huge, gorgeous 95 year old live oaks. One had died, though a dead live oak seems to be a contradiction in terms. Since graduation is 2 weeks away, something needed to be done. Hence the huge yellow crane and the massive healthy live oak being lowered into the massive hole in the ground left by the old, sick, dead tree they had just removed. I didn’t realize you could replace in one afternoon something that took decades to grow. If they had planted a sapling, we would have had to wait way too long for results. We don’t have that kind of time. I may give the new tree an encouraging nod and a pat when I walk by it. It has to be experiencing major root shock. To be uprooted and then replanted, and with such high expectations. Look great, look green and leafy. And do not die at an inconvenient time.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything. Maybe there is a time to plant something small and watch it grow. But maybe there is also a time for a fait accompli, a big tree already grown right here, right now.

Patience or immediate results. I’m in favor of both at the right time.

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