Author Archives: Kim Peterson

Senior Wannabes

Do you know any senior wannabes?

Underclassmen — especially freshmen — have always envied these advanced aristocrats.

As a lowly 15-year-old with a learner’s permit, I drove with Mom beside me. Seniors, on the other hand, often drove in their own cars, the ultimate in coolness.

While we freshmen sweated Algebra I and basic biology, seniors studied calculus and genetics. They were the star quarterbacks, the strutters on the musical stage, the academic superstars. They wore their steadies’ class rings wound with angora. Their slips didn’t show, their shoestrings didn’t trip them, and when they laughed in the cafeteria, chocolate milk never squirted out their noses.

At our school, they owned the Senior Circle, etched into the floor. Underclassmen caught touching it scrubbed the Circle with toothbrushes while the entire school watched.

Even when a senior, I stepped into the Circle only once — ready to hit the floor if attacked by toothbrushes.

For me, the Senior Circle didn’t live up to its billing.

Neither did the fabled senior year. I still didn’t understand algebra. The starring role in the musical went to somebody else. I achieved my driver’s license, only to have two accidents. I gained the boyfriend, then had to give back the class ring. Graduation was bittersweet, with many goodbyes.

Strangely, reverting to freshman status recharged my batteries. I explored a fascinating, new world: college.

Decades later, I’ve achieved senior status again. Not many wannabes stand in line to join me.

Who signed me up for this senior club when I wasn’t looking? I still don’t know algebra. I hear not-so-distant rumbles about taking drivers’ tests again. (Noooooo!) Starring roles go to younger people.

Where’s the Senior Circle in all this?

Image by Erika Wittlieb from Pixabay.

For many of us, grandchildren light it up like a movie marquee. No angora adorns our rings, but they’ve worn sweet grooves into our fingers and our hearts. Longtime friends, belly-laugh memories, and watch-TV dinners in which we don’t have to be good examples fill our days. Quiet wisdom gained only by those who have walked the road, won and lost — all these and more make our Senior Circle special.

Best of all, the God who drafted 80-year-old Moses to lead a national exodus still inhabits the Senior Circle. He inspired Caleb, a geriatric commando, to conquer a mountain inhabited by giants. He told 87-year-old Anna a secret few knew: the newborn she blessed at the temple was Jesus, the Savior of the world — including seniors.

God urges us to live, grow and achieve, and to look forward to graduation. Yes, it will be bittersweet with many goodbyes.

But we can become heavenly freshmen, exploring the infinite, fascinating world we will inhabit forever with Jesus.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you think of growing older?

“I’m Bored”

Years ago, my children learned those two words resulted in a fate worse than death.

My standard reply: “Here’s a scrub brush and bucket. When you finish washing the house, you can start on the street.”

Since COVID-19, however, my attitude has softened. Don’t tell my kids, but even I occasionally suffer from ennui.

Social media overachievers hasten to inspire me. They play board games as a family, with a minimum of bloodshed. They are pulling high school band instruments off the closet’s top shelf and practicing “Waltzing Matilda” with 500 other old band kids in Australia.

Workaholics are learning new languages, ballroom dancing and 100 ways to cook with vindaloo curry. They are painting bathrooms and portraits, creating life-sized origami NBA players. Some not only have finished Christmas shopping, but also have baked 19 fruitcakes apiece. Beware.

Some even (gasp!) clean.

The antidote for such pathological behavior, as many on the Internet have discovered, comprises consistent doses of nonproductivity. In a noble effort to help save quarantined humanity, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Count the holes in a box of crackers. Hurry, before they, like every other scrap of food in the house, disappear.
  • Teach social distancing to your goldfish.
  • Practice the polka. You know you always wanted to learn.
  • Recall your childhood paper airplane expertise. Fly a squadron late at night or early in the morning, when they’re trying to sleep.
  • Per video call, lecture children/grandchildren on the concepts of “rad” and “groovy.” If they close the connection, educate your cats.
  • Steal one piece from every puzzle in the house. However, if you share isolation with a puzzle addict, I do not advise this unless you have made all your final arrangements.
  • Ask your GPS for directions to Pluto. And no, Pluto, Mississippi, doesn’t count.
  • Practice mastodon mating calls on a garden hose. Believe me, this works. Years ago, when I was working nights and sleeping days, a visiting family’s seven-year-old treated me to an hour’s demonstration.
  • Debate the actual color of taupe.
  • Count the pens in your house that don’t work. Multiply by 23 and divide by 9. No reason. Just do it.
  • The walls may be shaking as your teens play a favorite song for the 41st time. But take heart. Knowing the words and music(?) so well, you can perform it for their viewing/listening pleasure. Then post the video on YouTube.

You can even project your concert on a giant outdoor screen.

Then your kids won’t become bored while they’re scrubbing the house.

And the street.

And the nearest water tower. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How have you and your family fought quarantine boredom?

Adventures with Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m celebrating my dad’s independent spirit. Until a few months before his death at 91, he never ceased seeking new adventure — and scaring his kids spitless.

Mom and Dad on their front porch in 2007.

Visiting my parents lapses me into Louisiana slow-mo. Lounging on their front porch, eating Mom’s peach cobbler, we watch mercury in the ancient thermometer soar. A hound dog snores in the road.

This Mayberry moment feels timeless. But it will disappear faster than my cobbler.

Why?

In a word, Dad.

My 82-year-old father, rocking away, looks harmless. But this man has given his guardian angel a permanent tic.

Dad regales me with his latest exploits. Although my parents rent Great-granddaddy’s homestead from my cousin, Dad claims responsibility for it. One morning, he scaled the heights — “No dizziness a’ tall when I take my pills” — and cleaned gutters.

When I choked and asked why he hadn’t called my cousin, he said, “Why bother her? I got time.”

However, 96-year-old Great-aunt Footsie spotted Dad on the roof. She told him he hadn’t gained a lick of sense over the years. A polite Southern boy, he agreed. Yes, ma’am, he shoulda called a young ’un to do that. No, ma’am, he wouldn’t climb up on the roof again.

Instead, Dad hauled his buzzing chainsaw up a ladder to trim trees. Suddenly, the ladder lurched, and he tumbled. Lying dazed, his life passed before him. Then, enough of that. Dad stood, revved his chain saw, and finished the job.

Now he sniffs the steamy air. “Something smells bad. Smelled it the other day, too.”   

I gag. “Whew. What is it?”

“Don’t know. Thought the cats dragged something dead under the house. Then I wondered if the sewer was leaking. So I—”

Image by Ana Meister from Pixabay.

“You didn’t.”

He did, though deep in these pine woods, rattlesnakes consider a crawl space the ultimate in creature comfort. Still, Dad slithered through under-the-house muck himself.

No snakes.

No plumbing problems.

Now, he inhales again. His eyes widen. “That’s gas. Better check it out.”

Not with a lantern, I hope. Thank God, he calls the propane company, who sends an inspector. The man’s eyes bulge like a frog’s. “Ya’ll got a prob-lem.”

Years before, someone removed a gas heater from the fireplace. He kind of forgot to cap the gas line.

Escaping gas. In the fireplace, where, for three winters, Dad has built his famous infernos.

When my cousin discovers the current excitement, she calls me. “No more home maintenance, y’ hear? Tell him to take up a different hobby.”

As if Dad listens to me.

At least, he permits the repairman to fix this. And because of his alertness, we escape a trial by fire.

Dad ages me with his antics (my true biological age is 213), but he also has played the hero many times.

I’m grateful.

But will I be up for the next visit?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Does your dad age you, too?

Screen Education Then and Now

With the rise of online coursework because of COVID-19, many assume screen education was invented only recently.

Wrong.

Long before the Internet, there were (drumroll, please) classroom movies. Projectors with reels of film shone images onto tipsy screens.

We students sometimes questioned the claim they were educational. Sex ed films we viewed were created in 1920, before sex was invented.

I did enjoy science films. What wasn’t to love about tap-dancing chromosomes?

Movies also promoted catching up on sleep. Sometimes the most exciting part involved counting backward with screen numbers at the beginning and hearing the film’s flap-flap-flap at the end. Or if our instructor wanted to fill the final five minutes of class, he’d bid the AV boy to hit “reverse.” Then, we could watch chromosomes tap dance backward.

During that era, I learned two facts about AV assistants: a) they had to be boys and b) some teachers should have allowed them to also run overheads. Adult attempts often blurred images beyond recognition. Half the time they were upside-down. This new technological advancement really messed with my already math-challenged mind. How did mutant polynomials improve on blackboards and chalk?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Later, as an adjunct professor, I fought with plastic overheads stuck together like Glad® Wrap. At course’s end, my students excelled in one area: I’d taught them to write upside-down.

Screen education during the dark ages. Yay.

Given the current pandemic, we can be thankful modern screen education encompasses all subjects and ages. But even before COVID-19, it was touted as more flexible, more productive, and less expensive than traditional methods.

Screen education provides other unique advantages, e.g., an online student can spend her entire life wearing jammies. When he grows tired of a teacher or subject, he can, with one click, banish the annoyance — until a parent checks his online report card.

My teachers could only fantasize about making me disappear. On difficult days in 2020, those teaching online must be sorely tempted to dispense with an entire class: “Oops. Hit the wrong button.”

However, computers will never take the place of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, who read stories every day. Or Mr. Carpenter, my band teacher, who encouraged me in music and writing.

They weren’t saints. We students weren’t, either. We pressed each other’s buttons, but we couldn’t click each other off. We dealt with real human beings. Every. Day.

And learned to get along.

During this pandemic, screen learning, originally touted as superior, has generated many tough days for teachers and students alike. Most can’t wait until (drumroll, please) they can resume face-to-face education. Rediscover the joys of the human touch …

More than ever before.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How would you grade screen learning?

First Bike Ride

Each year, taking our first tandem bike ride, Hubby and I huff, puff and yell at each other to keep pedaling — and that’s just getting out of the driveway.

In spring 2019, however, we had put on major pounds. Dogs that normally pursued our bicycle built for two didn’t bother. Their snores said, “I’d get more challenge out of chasing a parked car.”

Spring 2020, we decided, would be different. Or did Hubby decide? Whatever — I admit all those stay-sane-during-quarantine walks made us fit and ready to ride.

Hubby services and washes the bikes. Buys new helmets. Fires up his cyclocomputer that records mileage, speed, and number of bugs encountered and swallowed.

Despite lighter traffic than usual, we face certain risks. The above-mentioned dogs might supplement their diets with an ankle or two. Some drivers believe bikes are imaginary.  Occasionally, a crazed farmer tries to flatten us with his field planter. Maybe his girlfriend named Daisy dumped him, and he’s hated bicycles built for two ever since.

Still, Hubby and I take to the road.

As we pedal out of town, Hubby supplies most of the power. He also steers, changes gears, brakes, and does maintenance.

Me? As we approach stop signs, I proudly exhibit an innovation: hand signals. Correct, most of the time.

Impressed? Hey, I fill water bottles, too.

Zooming along Hoosier country roads, we spot landscape changes. A new house has sprouted. Young trees have grown. On the familiar route, I notice one homeowner’s switch from planting red geraniums to peach-colored.

“It’s great to be on the bike again,” I yell.

Hubby nods, mostly to keep bug-swallowing statistics low.

After several miles, though, a repressed truth returns full force: we are fit, but that does not mean the bicycle seats fit. A month will pass before our um, muscles, adjust — or total numbness sets in.

Plus, seduced by sunshine on this “perfect bicycling day,” we had ignored the wind’s powerful gusts. With the west wind behind us, we might eat lunch in Pittsburgh.

Then we turned.

Now, with the crosswind, our bike almost flew to Pittsburgh.

Still, even the last gasping miles of our return couldn’t detract from the green rivers’ flowing loveliness. From intoxicating apple blossom and honeysuckle fragrances. From glorious redbuds, as if God had tossed His favorite bouquets to us.

Yes, this first ride is different, and not just because we’re in good physical shape.

In spring 2020, we’re learning to live in the moment. Beauty bursts our hearts with gratitude. We’re extra thankful for health and strength to ride.

More than ever before, we are fit to enjoy it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you spent more time outside during quarantine?

Backyard Campout

At school’s end in the 1960s, tents bloomed in backyards like roses. Kathy, Debbie, and I couldn’t wait.

Image by Lucio Alfonsi from Pixabay.

Safety didn’t concern our mothers. Still, yakkety phone calls ensued before we extracted unanimous permission.

We campers stocked up on penny gum and Pixie Stix® at Charlie’s general store. If rich, we bought enough candy bars to ensure membership in the more-cavity group on Crest® Toothpaste commercials.

Lacking sleeping bags, we dragged old blankets and pillows to my saggy tent.

“Don’t knock down the poles,” Kathy warned.

Image by LiveLaughLove from Pixabay.

We ate 17 pieces of bubble gum each and read Bazooka Joe fortunes aloud. Debbie had confiscated her older sister’s teen magazine. Which Beatle was the cutest? This cosmic question kept us arguing and giggling until darkness fell. 

According to reliable sources, Gary and Tim were camping that night in Gary’s backyard. Younger than us, Tim was beneath our notice. Kathy and Debbie considered Gary icky, but no other boys on our block were outside. The so-called lack of prime victims didn’t bother me. I’d never told my friends I liked Gary’s cute smile.

Image by Daniela Mackova from Pixabay.

We sneaked out, careful not to topple poles. Creeping through several other yards, we halted behind lilacs near Gary’s house. We made it!

But we’d forgotten to bring Crazy Foam. Or squirt guns.

“Pound on their tent,” Kathy urged.

Except … no tent.

Gary’s sister had revealed his campout tonight. How dare he mess up our plans?

I didn’t like his dumb smile anymore.

Then wild, still-soprano yells erupted.

Ambushed!

I rocketed through darkness. Where were my girlfriends? The boys — probably well-equipped with Crazy Foam — would attack our tent.

Something sliced my throat!

Mom’s clothesline.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

I stumbled into our tent. In mistaken self-defense, Debbie and Kathy clobbered me. We knocked down poles. Entangled in canvas, we awaited Crazy Foam explosions and buckets of water.

Nothing. No one.

Perhaps the boys feared we would report them to their parents.

Propping up the tent, we tried to regain our bravado. Kathy told about the Man with the Golden Hook. Though I’d heard the tale a million times, scary scratching on our tent kept me edgy all night.

Also, Debbie had eaten beans for supper.

We couldn’t open the window because the Man with the Golden Hook would get us.

My friends nodded off, but my neck hurt. If only I could slip through my house’s unlocked door … But then, I’d have to explain my injury and betray our raid.

Finally, I slept.

Kathy and Debbie left early. Mom, unaware of my wound, insisted I clean up our mess.

I considered swearing off backyard camping forever.

At least, until tomorrow night.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you conduct backyard campout raids?

Tomato Tales

Image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay.

I appreciate dedicated farmers and truckers who continue to bring us produce during this challenging time.

Still, grocery-store tomatoes provide fresh gardening inspiration. They also inspired my tomato-loving dad. One February day long ago, he filled egg cartons with dirt. In our mother’s clean kitchen.

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay.

My siblings and I awaited her fiery, fly-swatter judgment.

Instead, Mom said, “I can almost taste the tomatoes now.”

Dad explained he was planting seeds that would grow into tomato seedlings, which we’d later plant in our garden. Unfortunately, only a few lived.

Though Dad doubted the scrawny survivors would produce, he planted them. One he named Methuselah, after the biblical character who lived 969 years, almost filled our family’s pantry by itself.

Methuselah grew as tall as I and spread out as if king of the tomato patch. Dad often counted more than 70 big, juicy tomatoes on Methuselah’s branches. We hauled bushel basketfuls from the garden until Mom locked us out. After canning for weeks in 90-degree weather, she considered the bumper crop a for-real attack of killer tomatoes.

Decades later, my husband and I relived that abundance when we bought a house with a garden full of tomato plants, heavy with fruit. We would enjoy fresh-tomato goodness — with almost zero work!

I thought.

Eventually, I understood why Mom ran screaming from the patch when new blossoms appeared. Way too many tomatoes! Lacking canning equipment or a freezer, we put dozens outside with a “free” sign.

Still, that tomato-y summer ruined us forever. The following spring, we could hardly wait to raise our own. Where to buy seedlings?

Hubby’s barber shop, the source of all small-town wisdom, supplied the answer. The local Future Farmers of America raised and sold seedlings every May.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay.

Since then, we’ve grown tomatoes every year. Red sunshine not only tickles our taste buds during summer, but during winter in homemade spaghetti sauce, chili and stews.

This year, however, the Future Farmers cannot grow seedlings. When Covid-19 first struck, I feared a run on gardening supplies.

Hubby gave me a you’re-so-paranoid look. “It’s not even Easter.”

With a few more gentle (Ahem!) reminders, he tried to order seeds online. Garden websites sang a unanimous song: sold out.

Would a similar run gobble up all seedlings? Would we be condemned to store-bought tomatoes forever?

Having learned his lesson (Always listen to your paranoid wife.), Hubby tracked down and planted tomato seeds. The seedlings will mature too late to plant at the usual time. But we’ll repot and keep them indoors. We’ll share them with others, spoiling them forever for tomatoes that taste like red sunshine — one small way to sweeten this pandemic.

Methuselah would be proud.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite fresh veggie?

Machines Versus Me

Image by Pam Carter from Pixabay.

For me, the machine takeover began when a Coke machine stole my dime. Big, red and shiny, it resembled a metallic Santa Claus. Yet its friendly exterior hid a chilly heart.

Decades later, I am still at odds with machines. Especially those that tell me what to do.

Image by OltreCreativeAgency from Pixabay.

Many contemporary machines keep their requests polite. My car dings apologetically when I forget to turn off its lights. My husband’s truck, however, peals like Big Ben, even when its belly bulges with $45 worth of gas.

“Don’t you dare talk to me in that tone!”

Does it listen to me? Never.

My Keurig coffee maker smarts off, too. Sure, its screen requests, “More water, please,” but it flashes an on-off light that betrays sarcasm. Reminds me of kids who demand ironed gym clothes, please (eye rolls).

The Information Age forces computers on us, sneaky machines that pose huge challenges to those who consider Ziploc® bags high tech. Don’t trust those friendly log-in welcomes. Do computers ever eat files like “My Worst Golf Scores” or “Breakfasts I Ate in 1993?” No-o-o. Mine devours IRS records and my newly finished novels. When feeling really rowdy, it emails eye-popping website links to my relatives.

I first encountered self-checkout machines at a grocery. A Voice welcomed me enthusiastically, then instructed me to scan my first item: a Death by Chocolate cake for my daughter’s college graduation. I found the UPC symbol on the cover’s bottom. Rats.

“Scan the first item and place it in the bag.” No “please.”

“I’d have to flip it over.” I held out my item for the machine to see. “It doesn’t fit in the bag. It’s a cake. An expensive cake!”

Image by Fawaz Sharif from Pixabay.

Now the ominous Voice demanded, “Scan the first item. Place it in the bag, or else.”

“I’ll bet you wouldn’t if it was your daughter’s cake!” I swung a fist at the monitor.

I’d swear it ducked.

“If you had half a brain, you could do this,” the Voice boomed.

I haven’t visited that store since. The restraining order might have something to do with that. …

I’ve heard self-checkouts now have better manners. Though with my luck, I’ll use one related to that first cake-hater. And wear the next cake I buy.

All this began with that long-ago Coke machine. I occasionally encounter its thieving descendants and fight the childhood urge to spit at them. See, machines can’t do that! Instead, I check coin returns. Once I found a quarter. Given inflation, the machine didn’t repay me for its ancestor’s larceny. But it tried.

I smiled and patted its shiny red side. That’s something machines can’t do yet, either.

Image by Stone WLP from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are machines your friends or enemies?

I Was a Soccer Mom

Before the quarantine, I beheld a newspaper story that made my body temperature plummet into the single digits. Soccer had invaded our area. Again.

“Calm down.” I took 10 deep breaths. “Your children have flown the nest. And the therapy helped. Really.”

Nevertheless, eight years of soccer mom madness left their mark. My normal (spring?) spectator attire consisted of a ratty sleeping bag guaranteed to repel water, ice and lightning bolts.

Photo by Ollebolle123 from Pixabay.

Even my deceased minivan, God rest its crankshaft, never recovered. Saturday mornings required more gasoline — and strategy — than the Normandy invasion. Because this is the First Commandment of Soccer: Never schedule family members to play in the same hemisphere.

There are other reasons why I still occasionally run screaming from children wearing knee socks.

I’ve never understood the rules. Take “offside,” for example. Does it have something to do with flying? My two children, whose combined weights equaled that of a soccer ball, flew more than they ran.

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay.

I tended to get upset.

Just a little.

All right, I confess to a deep, dark secret that will forever taint the family name. A referee once had to tell me to shut up.

Actually, he said, “Ma’am, you sit and watch the game. I’ll make the calls.”

To my credit, I feared for the children’s lives. Especially my kid’s!

The referee did not see that big, husky kid boot the smaller kid into the air instead of the ball. Neither, apparently, did other players. Even the wounded rose from the dead and stared at me.

My son stared at me.

I sat down and shut up.

Along with ER trips, I hated soccer dirt— gicky-sticky mud. Another Commandment of Soccer: fields must contain a minimum of 31 deep puddles, with the two largest placed at goals.

Player identification problems are bound to ensue. I once bought 73 sundaes to console my son’s team for a loss, only to realize after the last burp that I had fed their opponents.

Still, I must be fair and celebrate positives:

  • First, I love to watch other people exercise.
  • Second, I will forever cherish the memory of games on beautiful blue-sky days. Both of them.

In closing, I ask others to take compassion on soccer moms. Send them cards, give them hugs and chocolate, pay for their psychiatric stays.

I also want to ask all soccer moms, past and present, to join me in a credo that will seal our recoveries. Say it with me. We can do this.

“We were wr‒wr‒[gasp!] wrong. The referee is rrrr . . . [choke!] The referee is rrrr. …”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What is your favorite soccer mom memory?

Have You Hugged Your Tree Today?

Why do I love trees? Maybe because I was born where a tree flourishes on the town’s courthouse clock tower. No, I am not making that up. The town fathers of Greensburg, Indiana, keep the mulberry trimmed, but they can’t bring themselves to remove it.

I also come from a long line of tree huggers who celebrated them when “green” was only a color. Not that I loved my parents’ endless Tree Tours. We lived where poplars, maples and beeches zigzagged cornfields’ edges. So why take everlasting Sunday afternoon drives, incarcerated with siblings, just to look at trees? My parents oohed and aahed about spring dogwoods and redbuds as if at a fireworks display. Dad bought us icy cold bottles of Coca Cola — if we spilled a minimum of blood during back seat battles.

Photo by Kim Peterson.

A contractor, Dad avoided tree removal. Rather than chop down a dogwood, he constructed our house’s wooden deck around it. Friends chuckled, not realizing he was setting a major landscaping trend — a few decades early.

I didn’t realize I’d absorbed my parents’ tree fanaticism until we moved to the Oregon desert. Tawny hills surrounding our town looked indecent, bare except for scrubby little pines. Our Midwestern family wondered if we would die of tree starvation. My parents nurtured fast-growing pin oaks like newborns. But I left for college, so they couldn’t grow fast enough for me.

What a relief to return to Indiana University’s wooded campus that exploded into a thousand bouquets every spring! My husband and I later lived in married student housing on aptly named Redbud Hill (aka Roach Hill, but we tried to think positive).

Later, in our house’s backyard, a crabapple’s rosy blossom clouds celebrated our younger daughter’s birthday.

Every spring, I visited a gracious, aunt-like apple tree on our block who, dressed in her fragrant, flowery Sunday best, waved whenever she saw me.

One day, she vanished! I circled the area, hoping by some magic she would emerge among new house studs.

“You expected somebody to build his house around a tree?” Hubby tried to delete his thankfulness that I hadn’t known about Aunt Apple’s removal beforehand. He wouldn’t have relished dragging me away from bulldozers.

I can’t rescue every tree that takes a fall. But this tree hugger can’t help growing grouchy, because it takes even God decades to grow a tree.

Baby trees now flourishing outside my window are, as the biblical psalmist says, clapping their hands at my speech. Thank you, thank you.

Hey, I clap with them. Because the applause belongs to the God of green, without whom none of my forest friends would be possible.

He’s kind of a tree hugger, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite springtime tree?