by David Cecelski
When my cousin Edsel pulled his pick-up into my pasture this morning, he told me that he had seen a wild plum sapling sprouting in a meadow on the back road to Core Creek. The day was hot, we’re in long drought—our field corn is only 3 or 4 feet high and I think it’s done growing—and this is a terrible time of year to transplant a fruit tree.
But Edsel and I also knew the land’s owner would mow his meadow and cut down the sapling sometime in the few days. And we knew that sometimes you have to take chances, especially for something as sweet as the wild plums at Core Creek. I got a shovel out of the garage and we headed straight to the meadow.
I’ve wanted a wild plum tree here at the farm for a long time. Cultivated plum varieties don’t take our summer heat and high humidity very well, at least not for me, and I thought that maybe a wild plum tree would do better here.
I also have fond memories of the wild plums at Core Creek. When I was a child, a little grove of wild plum trees grew on the creek’s banks. We used to eat them when we went swimming down there. They were small and yellow, with a little blush of rose, and, as I said, very sweet.
At the meadow, Edsel and I found a young sapling that suited him. He’s 88 years old now, but he insisted on getting down on his knees and directing me where to place the shovel, how deep to dig, and how to lift the little tree out of the earth without damaging the roots. He gently removed the last of the dirt from around the roots with his big, leathery hands. I placed it in a bucket, and then gave him a hand up.
Back at the farm, Edsel parked in the pasture and I dug a little hole and placed the wild plum sapling into it. Under his direction, I refilled the hole part way, poured in water, filled in a little more dirt, added water, filled in more dirt, then watered again and patted down the soil. Edsel found an old iron tomato cage for me and I put it around the little sapling to keep mowers and deer away from it. Then we left things to hope.