A Pair of Pin Oaks

Memory Trees

Susan’s and my life has been blessed with many fine people and so our “list” of loved ones keeps growing and growing.  Of course, it happens that we lose the company of one every now and then.  They live on in our thoughts and memories – and frequently in our daily conversations.  And yet, we still have a desire to honor them with something concrete, something here at the farm.  The medium we have chosen for many years now has been “arboreal” – we have planted memory trees as reminders.  We enjoy the act of planting and we savor watching the growth and annual cycles.  This note is about two trees we planted in the Spring of 2019.


Ted and Haze

Earlier this year we planted two Pin Oaks to honor my Dad and Mom: Ted and Hazel Sanford.  My Dad was born in 1925 and left us in 2011; my Mom was born in 1929 and just celebrated her 90th birthday.  They were very happily married for over 60 years and gave us 4 kids a both a fine start in life and many happy times since.

1950 - Jackson Street 5


Swamp Oaks

The Latin name of this species – Quercus palustris – translates as “oak of the swamp”.  I chose it because I wanted to plant them right next to the Hemlock Swamp – Dad’s special spot that he hunted for a couple of mornings each Fall, when my Mom and Dad would drive up to the farm from East Islip for the Columbus Day weekend.

Pin Oaks like wet feet and are famous – at least among us waterfowlers – as a great source of duck food.  When old enough to produce and drop acorns, Mallards and Wood Ducks will find them – and gobble them up – on the ground around the trees, or right in the swamp itself.


The Planting Crew

Many of our family and friends knew of our plans.  Strong backs and firm grips arrived to help – from throughout the Northeast.  The first to grab a shovel was Young Benjamin – on brief leave from his Manhattan haunts.

The Bogus Barbarossa set to his task with the Zeal of Youth….

…but even his lean sinews soon needed assistance…..

Help soon arrived…first from Pennsylvania.

Cap’n Fencepost remembered to swing through the target.

The next volunteers hailed from out Canandaigua way….

Just a bit of unrest amongst the troops….

At last, the Big Guns came to the rescue.


Never – seldom? – was heard a discouraging word….

One-on-one instruction was proffered to the local help….(and note Dad’s blind on the right, on the far shore).

I did have to ride herd on one or two individuals….

Any family resemblance?

Moral support was shipped up from Coastal Carolina…..

sm 14 Thurston Howell TEXT

And beamed over from the heart of Germany…..

sm 15 Berlinkers Crew TEXT


The Anniversary

As it turns out, the trees arrived on April 22.  Sure it’s Earth Day, but – much more important – it’s also the wedding anniversary of Ted and Haze.

Steve and Connor Record brought them from a nearby nursery – and dropped them into place.

Once in the holes, it only remained to straighten them up, backfill and mulch.

Our Quality Assurance/Quality Control Officer gave her nod…..

…and Counselor Nemo made sure everything was legit.

Now for the easy part.


Mother’s Day

It wasn’t long before the two dormant saplings began to enjoy the Spring.

The delicate leaflings emerged from their buds…

…whilst a Tree Swallow watched with interest.


Father’s Day

By late June, everything was green.

Every leaf was now fully grown.

They were kept company by the neighboring flowers.

Dad always enjoyed his Irises.

And the marsh was lush with duck foods.

Here’s the view from inside…

…and here’s the view from Dad’s duck blind.

This is the first time I’ve named individual trees.


July 2

And here’s the view on Grammy Hazel’s 90th birthdate.


They still need a bit of protection (hardware cloth) from mice and deer.


All the best,