This black walnut tree has finally, after more than two decades of effort, risen above the reach of marauding deer and the effects of prairie weather. The number of dead shoots are testament to its repeated efforts.
I planted several walnuts that long ago day, along with some apple trees. I remember my dreams of future apple walnut pies with some sympathy for my idealist youth. Every fruit tree I have planted here has died back to its rootstock. There is a good assortment of hard pears, sour plums, and tiny crabapples for the local wildlife but not much for the human residents. Also, the harvesting methods employed by the wildlife can be surprisingly detrimental to the longterm productivity of a tree. Bears especially do a lot of damage, as they seem to find it perfectly logical to remove a tree limb in order to eat all the fruit hanging on it. Definitely in the immediate gratification realm of dietary decisions.
Luckily, woman does not live on pie alone, and recording the life of this tree on cloth feeds my soul. I am very happy with the harvest of walnut leaves for printing. They worked wonderfully on this piece of old wool blanket. I am going to make some cushion covers so that I can enjoy the memory of the walnut and its hard won place in this landscape even in the depths of winter.
I also have some new young walnut trees to plant this fall, because planting trees is my last and best vestige of optimism about the world and my place in it. Next year I may even try apples again.