Sunday, June 21, 2009

Planting Juniper Trees In The Hawthorne Eco Village (Summer Visitation 2009)

Photos By John Hoff

A couple days ago, I helped make the Hawthorne Eco Village a little greener by planting 16 juniper trees in front of a resident's new privacy fence. My 12-year-old son Alex helped and earned some wages for his efforts.

The trees came from our very own Hawthorne tree nursery, and as quickly as I denuded the nursery of junipers a new bunch of plum trees came in.

Before planting the trees, we did a little calculating and figuring. At first, the resident wanted to plant the trees four feet from the fence but then we figured out THAT would be trouble, because... could give no-accounts a place to sleep, defecate, and do drug deals. Though we haven't had those problems in a while, we are vigilant and certainly don't intend to make life EASIER for the thugs. So we placed the trees roughly two feet from the fence, so there would be no hidden area created between the tree and the fence.

The top photo shows the sign from the tree nursery, which was within walking distance. The next photo might be titled "one tree down, fifteen to go." The ground was extremely rocky, the sun was hot, but with love in your heart for the neighborhood, who really minds?

The next photo shows a situation I rectified at the same time the juniper trees were planted. Remnants of chain link fence were entwined with small trees along the fence line at the other side of the lot. Most of the old fence was gone, except for these hunks left in the trees, pressed into the woody flesh like a galvanized crown of thorns. So I obtained a bolt cutter and snipped out the pieces.

In the vacant lot, where 3119 4th St. N. once stood, there were still some minor fragments of rubble with (incredibly) wheat springing up. It appears the straw spread on the vacant lot contained some wheat seed, and so a minor crop of sorts was planted by accident.

In the next photo, Alex drinks water from a rubber hose. It took a bit of convincing to get him to drink from the hose, and I may have been forced to tell him a story about my army canteen--how it tasted like mold and bleach--and tell him "real men drink from a rubber hose and they don't complain about how it tastes."

In the final photo, Alex planting one of the juniper trees. He learned a bit about junipers that day: the berries are used to flavor venison sausage, and a drink called "gin." The berries don't taste very good, but contain a lot of vitamins and if you were in a survival situation, you could eat a few to get some vitamins.

These are the kind of things my father once taught me, always preparing me for the sudden and unexpected "survival situation." My secondhand philosophy about raising children is this: above all else, teach them how to survive. Survival is the ultimate default behavior. If your children can't survive some unexpected crisis, they won't be around to apply anything else you might teach them.

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