The Peach Tree Lesson

    “The Peach Tree Lesson,” Ensign, Mar. 1994, 17

    The Peach Tree Lesson

    Patient, loving care is as important to the growth of children as it is to the blossoming of trees.

    I dreamed of having peaches in May as I eagerly shopped for a peach tree. The end of February wasn’t the ideal time to buy—in Phoenix, Arizona, peach trees are planted earlier in the year—but I found a sturdy, well-shaped, bare-root tree. I had qualms about my purchase, but the clerk at the nursery assured me that it wasn’t too late in the season to plant it.

    I planted the tree near the back gate in a place from which my husband, James, had removed an apricot tree the year before. Carefully, I removed the root protection from the tree and set the tree down inside the deep, wide hole I had dug. I separated the roots and filled the hole with water. I covered the roots with dirt and watered the tree again. I even fed the tree a root stimulator solution.

    James and I watched the tree for signs of growth. He trimmed back some of the branches, hoping to help the roots by giving them less tree to feed. We watched and waited. Two small buds developed on the end of the top branch. We were hopeful, but nothing more happened. Though we continued to water the tree, my dreams of eating fresh peaches in May faded. I concluded that I had simply planted the tree too late.

    Then the tips of most of the twigs dried out, and my hopes for any life at all in the tree vanished. By the first of May, I had stopped checking the tree on my daily walk to the clothesline or garbage can. The death of my tree was something I didn’t even want to be reminded of. It had become a very personal thing to me. Even so, James continued to water it.

    On the fifth of May, a Saturday, James called to me, “Come! I have a surprise for you.” I couldn’t imagine what it could be. James was clearly excited, so I headed toward the back gate. There stood James next to our peach tree. Little green leaves had sprouted out all over the tree. I stood transfixed, greeting each sprig of green like a child gazing at each glowing light on a Christmas tree.

    My immediate response was gratitude to James for continuing to water the tree. I realized that patience had been the key to bringing the tree to life.

    The lesson was a poignant one for me. I began to realize that patience and continued loving care can benefit human life as well as trees. Sometimes I wonder now, as I struggle with my children, if my effort will ever have any effect. But then I remember that a tree’s root structure must grow and become well established before it can send out growth to its branches. In a like manner, children must be fed and loved and given knowledge, experience, and more love in order for them to grow and blossom. Sometimes we as parents do not detect their growth until suddenly a close observation reveals a growing, living tree.

    Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh