|Draper's Acres, Winter of 2007|
In October 1999 when we moved to our farm, we planted an 18" spruce tree where it would stand as a beacon to show the corner where the lawn ends and the gravel driveway branches off. This is needed to aid snow clearing so we don't ruin our lawn every winter. It was the perfect spot for the imperfect little tree. The tree is special to us as we had rescued it in 1994 from a large tree farm operation that threw out several hundred seedlings because they'd grown too large for the automatic tree planting equipment. We rescued 10 of the trees, deep down from a pile that had been left lying with their roots exposed to the sun for several hours. We planted them at home on our acreage, hoping they'd survive. The next year we retired from our military careers and left CFB Cold Lake, Alberta for the balmy climate of Saskatchewan. Along with our kids and belongings, we took our houseplants and six containers of sorry-looking seedlings which we transplanted into the garden of our new home. (The seedlings, not the kids.) We lived in town for five years. The seedlings were alive, but didn't thrive. Then came the move to the farm where we picked the healthiest seedling for the honored corner spot.
By 2010 the small spruce was still too small for Christmas lights. Although it wasn't actively growing, it was still green and healthy looking.
|Draper's Acres, May 2010|
Then during the summer of 2011, we noticed new growth at the ends of each little branch and it didn't look lopsided if you looked at it from the right angle.
|Draper's Acres, Dec 2011|
In 2013 the tree grew upwards and outwards, filling out yet still with its signature branch jutting out. The gardener in me figures the roots had stretched out and down and the tree decided to put its efforts into growing topside. But my heart likes the thought that the little discarded tree finally realized it was home and would never be uprooted again.
|Draper's Acres, Nov 2013|
The tree was 20 years old in 2014 and continued its growth spurt--so much that when Nelson (and the boys who are hidden) went to string the lights, they had a tough time reaching the top branches. And oh, that tree shone through the darkness, a wonderful sight to behold during those long winter nights.
|Draper's Acres, Dec 2014|
It's hard to tell how tall the 2015 spruce tree is in this next photo, so that's when I decided I'd need to include the power line above it in all future shots.
|Draper's Acres, Dec 2015|
By 2017 the once-discarded spruce was over 14 feet tall as shown by the height of Nelson and JJ, the space between them and above them. To string the lights, JJ used two of those picker-upper things so it looked like he had extended lobster claws, but they did the trick of reaching the top of the tree. (For comparison, check out the 2010 photo to see the progress in the past 7 years!)
|Draper's Acres, Nov 2017|
Throughout the years we've lived on the farm, the tree has been the gathering place for family photos. It's a visual reference to the growth of the kids as well as the tree. Like this 2017 photo when all four kids were home for Christmas and after they went home, we were left with a beautiful memory of the event.
|Draper's Acres, Christmas 2017|
|Draper's Acres, Nov 2018|
The guys have gotten inventive over the years and last week when they went to string the lights, Nelson taped one of the picker-uppers to the end of a long handle. JJ held the lights up and they both circled the tree, winding the lights around as they went.
|Draper's Acres, Nov 2019|
A few hours after this year's tree was strung with lights, the moon tried to peek out and add to the light show. .
|Draper's Acres, Nov 2019|
So there you have the tale of the tiny discarded spruce tree. I only have one worry now...because of where we planted it, we may have to shave a bit off the top side if it reaches the power line. It's my fault--something I should have considered, but never imagined 20 years ago on that late October day when we moved to Draper's Acres to raise our family.
What started out as a tiny discarded tree provides us with immeasurable blessings throughout the year.
Anita Mae Draper lives on the Canadian prairies where she uses her
experience and love of history to enhance her stories of yesteryear's romance
with realism and faith. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual
references by checking Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her
website at www.anitamaedraper.com