Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Tale of the Tiny Discarded Tree

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.

This post is also posted at

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Tale of the Bluebird Tree

Mountain Bluebird, male, May 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
One day, a man and woman were driving along and saw a flash of blue in a field of stubble. Oh, how pretty to see a bluebird. Another bird flew past with only a touch of blue on the wings and landed on a nearby tree branch.

Mountain Bluebird, female, May 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
The man and woman didn't think the tree looked pretty at all. It had no green leaves like all the other trees were getting, and the branches were wiggly and sharp. 

The Bluebird tree, May 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
The man and woman drove away, but later at home, they looked in their bird book and saw that the bright blue bird was a Mountain Bluebird male, and the one with only a bit of blue was the female.

A week later, the man and woman went back to see the pretty bluebirds. They were surprised to find the male poking his head in a big hole in the dead tree.

Mountain Bluebird, male, May 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
As the people stopped to look, the male pulled his head out and flew away. The people were sad they had scared him away, but happy when the female came out of the hole to take a look.

Mountain Bluebird, female, May 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
And the people knew that the bluebirds had built a nest in a hole of the dead tree. Soon, baby bluebirds would hatch from eggs laid by the female. 

The woman took a picture of all the trees near the bluebird tree so they would remember where it was, and then they drove quietly away.
Before the storm, Jun 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
One week later, a terrible wind blew across the prairie and many trees were damaged near the man and woman's home. They drove out to check the dead tree that held the bluebird nest. 

But where was it? The people knew they were at the same place because they had a picture of it. But where was the bluebird tree?

After the Storm, Jun 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
The bluebird tree was gone! Everything in the picture was the same, but the tree wasn't there.

The man walked over to take a look.

Looking for fallen Bluebird Tree, Jun 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
He pointed to something that the woman couldn't see, and then he took a picture of something laying on the ground. 

Taking photo of fallen tree, Jun 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
The man showed the woman a picture of a tree on the ground with a big hole in it, and they knew the mighty prairie wind had pushed over the bluebird tree.

Hole in Fallen Bluebird Tree, Jun 2019. Source: Nelson Draper
Then the man showed a picture of inside the hole. It was empty. Only bits of old grass and small twigs lay at the bottom. The nest was gone. 

Empty hole in fallen tree, Jun 2019. Source: Nelson Draper
The man and woman were heartbroken. The pretty bluebirds were gone and they didn't know if they had even survived the storm. For several days, the man and woman stayed away. It was too sad to drive by the fallen tree. They prayed that God had taken care of the birds that He had created. 

One day when they couldn't wait any longer, the man and woman drove to the fallen tree. From a distance, they saw that nothing had changed.

But then they saw a flash of bright blue zip past their car. Right behind it flew a bird with a bit of blue on its wings. The bluebirds! Yes! As the man and woman watched, the bluebirds flew past the fallen tree and deeper back into the trees behind it. Somewhere in that bush, they had built another nest, sheltered from the prairie wind. So deep, that the man and woman couldn't see it from the road.

Mountain Bluebird, male, on stubble, Jun 2019. Source: Anita Mae Draper
It was the last time the man and woman drove that way, but one day, they'll be back looking for new bluebirds. Meanwhile, they look at the pictures and imagine the male bluebird out on the stubble and new crop, watching out for insects to bring back to his family.

Tale of the Bluebird Tree video shows the bluebird pair at the tree.


This is a true story, but if you like fiction, you can check out my other stories at