A man of eighty, planting!
To sow at such an age might be no harm,
Argued three youngsters from a neighbouring farm,
But to plant trees! Th’old man was plainly wanting.
‘For what, in Heavens name,’ said one of them
‘Can possibly reward your pains,
Unless you live to be Methusalem?
Why tax what little of your life remains
To serve a future you will never see?’
‘Is it so,’ said he?
‘My children’s children, when my trees are grown,
Will thank me for their kindly shade.
What then, has any law forbade
A man to work for pleasure not his own?
To picture theirs is my reward today,
Perhaps tomorrow also; who shall say?’
This is a translation from a French poem written over three hundred years ago. Nowadays it applies to me, still planting trees at eighty three. My oaks, like his, will be for the grandchildren to enjoy, but there is another which may benefit me.
PINUS MACEDONIS, the ‘Beanstalk Pine,’ is famous for its’ rapid growth. Planted in early April, it grows three feet each week on average, and is some thirty five feet tall by the autumn. Growth slows after that, and it reaches its’ maximum height of eighty feet in five years. But the girth continues to expand, and in its’ native Macedonia I have driven my old Volvo in tunnels carved through the vast trunks. We have planted a grove of them here this spring.