During one of the summer storms, my fourteen-year-old Pawpaw tree went from gently leaning into the yard, to bowing down, leaves almost touching the grass.
At first, I thought it was temporary, like the way the hydrangeas get heavy with moisture and look like they’re exhausted and wilting, and the next day, as they dry off, they lift back up. But even while all of the other flowers and trees in the yard started to rise back up to standing, the Pawpaw stayed tilted.
Part of the problem is that the Pawpaw tree was planted in the retaining wall, rather than straight in the ground, and the retaining wall is not in the greatest of health. There are all kinds of bushes and trees around the Pawpaw competing for space, and the wooden slats that keep each level of the wall in place are rotting.
But still. The Pawpaw tree has been there for nine of its fourteen years, long enough to have deep roots, so I didn’t expect it to fall down and never get up again.
Mom said it could be about the quality of the soil in the retaining wall; it’s gotten spongy. She has plans to buy special soil to add into the wall around the tree, to help support it, but if it’s the soil, then why is it only the Pawpaw that’s struggling to stay upright?
I get a teensy bit paranoid about my tree, obviously.
We put some rocks around the trunk and leaned a garden fork against it with the teeth dug into the ground as a counterweight, but that was only a short term solution.
Then Mom went to the home improvement store and bought a heavy rope and a bungee cord. My job was to climb up into the retaining wall (with a big stick for balance and to push tangled vines and branches out of my way) and wrap the rope around two solid trees a few levels up into the wall. Then the bungee cord went around the trunk of the Pawpaw, as taut as possible, to give the tree some extra support, so at least it won’t tilt further in the next storm.
I don’t know how Mr. Pawpaw feels about wearing a back brace, as well as the bowtie that marks him out as off limits to the gardeners, but I hope he agrees that survival is more important than vanity.
So now I wait and see. There’s still one Pawpaw fruit growing on one of the higher branches (out of reach) and the leaves look healthy, so I’m hopeful.
I’m not thrilled with all of the drama that comes of loving a tree; but it certainly gives me something to write about.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?