As you can clearly see, this picture shows where trees have ceased to be. Said trees, both Boxelders, were favorites of mine. The one on the left side of the picture held many swings during its time. No one really says anything good about Boxelders these days, but I have nothing but fond memories of them and the services they provided for our family. A different one on the opposite side of the house held my tree house. That tree was extremely special to me, as I had always been very jealous of my sister and brothers' tree houses; which occupied gigantic willows. My father darn near cut his leg off while doing some hardcore pruning on one of the two trees in this picture. While that is not a fond memory, it is still another tale of our lives and the roles these trees played in them. Also, Dad's efforts to hold on to these trees as long as possible via tough-love trimming is a testament to his fondness for them. They were the original trees on the relatively tree-less property that my parents purchased in 1970. As you can clearly see, it is not a tree-free property anymore and my parents still reside there.
Last week, I had to report for jury duty. Not knowing what to expect, I brought a bag full of books to read. I did not succeed in reading one sentence, however; because the lady sitting next to me was a lot of fun to talk to! After learning about my tree related occupation, she began professing her love of willows. Her fond memories of giggling children hiding among weeping branches brought a sparkle to her eyes. At a former residence, she had planted three weeping willows in the front yard. She was so taken with their beauty and grace that she dubbed her home, "Three Willows". Her story is very familiar to me, because I think I can honestly say that EVERYONE who has come to the farm looking for willow trees shares the same reverence for them.
Quaking aspens seem to have a similar effect on people. The sound their leaves make when they rustle in the wind really resonates. I remember calling them "cinnamon trees" when I was a kid, because I thought they shared a similar aroma. When I walked past a particular stand, I would always pause and listen and sniff. Sometimes I wouldn't find the smell I was searching for and other times, I would just stand there and take it in. Nowadays, I still notice that sweet fragrance whenever I am hiking in the woods. A whiff of perfume and a whisper of wind take me to a peaceful place of memories. I'm not the only one.
Stately elms and oaks linger in our minds' eyes too. The presence that such trees have is hard to put into words. What they must have "seen" during their years, just standing in one place, is food for thought. How many birds and squirrels must they have accommodated? How many people passed beneath their arching canopies on their trips to and from countless destinations? When you really think about it, trees are much more like family members or peaceful neighbors than yard decorations. We want them around us and we're willing to do extensive work to make it so. If we allow them to be, they are fully interactive.
I attended a short seminar at Northern Green this year called, "Speak Up For Trees". Our speaker is a very neat lady, who has been working in horticulture for many years. Her Lorax themed talk provided ideas for engaging people in community tree planting projects. She rattled off typical tree planting incentives, such reducing energy costs and improving air quality. More intriguing to me, were the statistics she shared on how trees reduce crime, speed healing and even increase the birth weights of babies. There is actually a National Tree Benefits Calculator that can help you put a monetary value on your trees if you are so inclined. While all of these (and oodles more which I neglected to mention) are wonderful reasons to plant trees, I can't get past the fact that we plant trees because it is inherent for us to do so. Throughout the course of our existence as humans, we have learned that there are plenty of perfectly good, intangible reasons for having trees around. Thank goodness that's the case. Trees make memories; plain and simple.
As you can clearly see in this nice picture here, we are virtually snow free on February 15th, 2017. This is not the norm. Here are some pictures taken on later dates throughout the years to provide us all with a little cold, hard, reality.
I guess what I am getting at here, is that we Minnesotans are conditioned to be a bit cynical. Deep down, we are a hopeful lot. We just bury our hope beneath foot after foot of metaphorical snow. That is how we protect ourselves. Our plants are generally protected by literal snow and the lack thereof is a bit of a concern. Luckily, the realist in me knows that there is no point in fretting about it now.
I have more important things to worry about! My husband and friends and I are supposed to play "ice golf" this weekend on a not-so-frozen lake. There's plenty of ice out there, it's just really, really wet. That should make for even sloppier golf than we normally play. So you see, I am a life-long Minnesotan and I can still figure out a way to complain about 50 and 60 degree weather in February!
As I write this, I can't help thinking about Minnesotan tendencies and how our environment shapes our behavior. Last year, the local news did a little bit on "Minnesota Nice" and how that phrase might not be entirely accurate. In fact, I just Googled something to that effect in search of the story I'm referring to, and found a hilarious website called www.meannesota.com. The author has clearly had some very bad experiences here. I was feeling kind of ashamed after scanning through his page, which actually bears the title, "Help Me ESCAPE from Meannosota." Thank goodness, the next search engine result had a more uplifting take. The kind individual known to me only as sorenson.blogspot.com, explains that you can find "Minnesota Nice" "Up North". I can only assume that this good soul is a true Minnesotan.
I'm going to blame the weather for any coldness I might exude, because I'm a good Minnesotan and that's what I do. Notice I automatically chose the adjective, "good," in lieu of a more illustrious one. That pretty much sums up Minnesotan-ism right there. Why be frilly about it? I am reminded of the Marilla Cuthbert character from Anne of Green Gables. Could it be that all of our mental preparations for meteorological disappointment result in us being a bit guarded? Are we so used to thaws in February and freezes in May that we are in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop? I'm going to go with...probably. However, despite the image we might portray, we are a hardy bunch. Just like the other forms of life who reside here, we can take just about anything that comes our way. Will we be shoveling snow again in a few weeks? There's a pretty good chance. Will that break our spirits? No chance. Will folks from other states who aren't used to our minimal usage of unnecessary gestures such as eye contact and tooth flaunting identify us as strong spirited optimists? The verdict is still out...
My name is Connie Kratzke. I have worked with Kahnke Brothers for 16 years. During this period, I have done everything from watering the plants to designing our website. My role at the nursery involves selling stock, managing inventory, marketing plants and overseeing the production of shrubs and perennials. Sometimes I sit at a desk and other times I can be found in a Bobcat. During my career here, I have become a MNLA Certified Professional. I am also an at large member of the Minnesota Grown Promotion Group/Minnesota Grown Advisory Committee. Currently, I serve as City Arborist for Silver Lake, Minnesota, and a member of their planning commission. My focus is on helping our clients succeed with their landscaping efforts. Education is a huge factor influencing that success. Keeping it real is my strategy. Through sharing my experiences at the nursery and at home, I hope to debunk myths and eliminate concerns. At the same time, I want people to be aware of what doesn't work. Living things are somewhat unpredictable, but they all have basic needs. Understanding how to fill those needs while simultaneously achieving landscape goals is a process that I want to share with as many people as possible, because I truly enjoy it.