Listing toward the west

Legend has it that the saying, “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” came from Shoeless Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox who purportedly admitted to being part of throwing the 1919 World Series, allowing the Cincinnati Reds to win.

As far as I understand, Joe always denied it and was in fact acquitted of the charges.

Regardless of the origin, I must shout out, “Say it ain’t so!!!” At press time the forecast for Southeastern Massachusetts is for the fourth Nor’easter in four weeks, with 8-12 inches of snow predicted. And for good measure, there is a chance of another storm this weekend. Too much of a good thing is not good. Too much of a bad thing is even worse.

In his Easter Message on page one of this week’s Anchor, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., tells the faithful there is a reason why the beauty of summer morphs into the lifeless winter. The trees become bare for a purpose, one of which is, “The leaves fall to keep branches from breaking with the heavy snows of winter.”

I couldn’t help but think of one particular tree when reading the bishop’s message. Just outside our home is a wonderful Japanese Maple tree. A fledgling at that, planted only a couple of years ago to replace a marvelous 40-foot pine tree that was bowled over by a Nor’easter several years ago.

Besides being pleasing to the eye in the summer, my little maple holds my two bird-feeders which draw all types of feathered friends for a free meal.

The last Nor’easters have taken a toll on my poor little buddy. With saturated soil surrounding it and the relentless pounding of northeast gales, the maple is listing about 70 degrees to the west.

The last storm had the added benefit of about 16 inches of snow to go along with northeast gales — not a good combination for a vulnerable sapling.

During the height of the March 13 blizzard, thanks to a tip from a Facebook friend, I trekked out in snow drifts up to my waist to aid and abet my mauled maple to knock the heavy, wet snow amassed on its branches. Igor wisely opted to watch from the window.

I grabbed a three-foot long one-by-four and gently whacked the limbs, which at once sprung to life, again pointing skyward instead of assuming some awkward yoga position.

With each swipe the tree rebounded. Yet, one cannot knock the snow off a tree with a three-foot plank without assuming the fallen burden.

By the time I had finished my flora CPR, I was covered with heavy, wet snow and found myself listing toward the west. But, unlike my maple, I was able to unburden myself.

I braced the tree with the board to give some added support against the gales.

While I was out there, I filled the bird feeders so my feathered friends would have food following the storm.

I hadn’t made it back in the house when wrens, juncos, cardinals, and turtle doves plowed their way through the wind-driven snow to the two drive-throughs swaying on the leaning tower of bird seed.

I was cold and I was wet, but I also felt pretty good about saving my Japanese Maple until it can be properly braced, and for providing some comfort food for the birds on a cold snowy day.

But tomorrow’s another day — and another storm. I’m ready though, with a full bag of bird seed and a trusty three-foot long one-by-four. I only wish the tree and birds could help me shovel out my car.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts