Welcoming the new day, Sandford stood on the rim of the escarpment watching the sun rise. Taking in the energy of the sun, he opened himself to all the joy a new day can bring. He vowed not to resist that joy in any way.
After he was done with his morning ritual Sandford walked back to his jeep. Driving back into town he mentally reaffirmed his intentions of having a joyous day then he pulled out his smartphone and called his favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered eleven breakfast burritos.
With a cardboard box full of burritos sitting on the passenger seat of his jeep, he pulled into the site and parked near the large flatbed truck loaded with trees. “Breakfast burritos for everyone!” He yelled out to the eleven workmen. (Actually, the crew consisted of seven workmen and four workwomen.) Setting the burritos on the hood of his jeep, he then went to inspect the trees.
The site was a narrow eight acre parcel of land bounded on one side by State Highway 78 and the other side by a small creek. The site used to feature a night club and parking lot but the night club had burned to the ground the previous year. Sandford had learned that an out-of-town business was planning on buying the property, razing the remains of the night club and building a strip mall. So he quickly bought the property before anyone else could.
He cleared the site of the night club remains as well as about two-thirds of the parking lot. His intention was to turn the site into a park. There would be a tiny parking area, a playground for children and walking trail that led down to the creek at one end of the property, followed the creek to the opposite end of the property then looped back to the playground. Sandford designed the park and was building it and after it was finished he was going to donate it to the town.
There was not a single tree on the site but that was going to change today. The walking trail was already finished and now the 58 trees on the flatbed trailer would be planted.
Once all the breakfast burritos were in the warm bellies of the workers Sandford put on his work gloves and addressed the crew:
“I want to thank everyone for being here on this glorious day to plant trees. The weather could not be more perfect. Yesterday I planted wooden stakes everywhere that I want a tree. The stakes with a green ribbon on them are where the pine trees go and the stakes with the orange ribbon on them are where the deciduous trees go. So let’s everyone grab a shovel and a tree and let’s start planting.”
Sandford grabbed a shovel and worked right alongside the crew. He was brimming with joy. He had not planted a tree in 29 years!
As a child growing up, Sandford, along with his family, planted a tree every year on Arbor Day. It was a family tradition. As he grew he got to watch those trees grow also. He developed a bond with each one of those trees and he became a true tree-lover. When he left home at 18 he vowed to continue planting a tree every year for the rest of his life.
But then he went to college. Then he got a job. Then he started a business. His life had been very full and very busy and now at the age of 47 he realized that he had not planted a single tree since the last tree he planted with his family when he was 18. He did not keep his vow. There were 29 trees that never got planted.
Sandford felt terrible about this and he decided to make up for it by planting two trees for each of those 29 trees that never got planted. That is why he was planting 58 trees in the new park-to-be.
Sandford and the crew worked through the morning into the early afternoon planting trees. While the crew was planting the last two trees Sandford put down his shovel and took off his gloves and went for a walk along the walking trail. He smiled at, touched and blessed everyone of the new trees.
He was so happy!
When he got back to where the vehicles and workers were he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wad of hundred dollar bills. He handed one to each worker, thanking them profusely.
Then he called out to everyone, “Hey, I don’t know about you guys but I am suddenly starving. Who’s in the mood for pizza and beer?”
The crew cheered.
“Lunch is on me! Just follow me over to Amanda’s Pizzeria.”
The crew cheered again.
The next morning, instead of driving out to the escarpment for his daily sunrise ceremony, Sandford drove to the new park and watched the sun rise in the company of all 58 of those trees.
(Author’s note: In America this Friday (April 26th) is Arbor Day. In most climate zones it is a great day to plant a tree. I invite everyone who can to start a tradition and experience the supreme exhilaration and joy of planting a tree.)