There is an ancient Norse ceremony that must be observed when you plant a tree. You gather family and friends, give each a glass of wine, then get them to circle the newly planted tree three times, sprinkling wine from their glass onto it, while calling on the Norse gods to watch over it. “Oh, Norse gods, look after this tree!” or something like that. It probably helps if you know a Norse language. (That done, you can then drink the leftover wine.)
On one of the last days of Winter, the family came and, kindly tolerating my eccentric idea and placated by the prospect of wine, they helped me plant a new tree with due ceremony and I have watched over it since.
There was not only scepticism about the pagan ritual (and unkind remarks directed at me), but there was also concern about the tree itself: it was just a stick, they said. Admittedly, it does look like a stick (it’s about two metres high, with only a few bumps promising new growth). There are big expectations of this stick. It’s a Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) and the grand plan for the new garden is based on its growing to about 10 metres and shading the house in Summer. That is still a long way off, of course, and in the meantime, I must take great care of it so it does what I hope of it.
Things are not looking good. It still looks just like a stick, and here it is a month into Spring and all else around it is turning green. The ‘bumps’ have swelled only a little, some not at all. The swollen buds have a faint hint of green, which is promising.
What has gone wrong? Did the gods not hear us? The Silver Maple comes from Northern climes so the gods should be sympathetic. Did my family not share their wine fairly with the tree? (Probably, being my family.) Perhaps some didn’t go the full distance; it was supposed to be three times. (Some of them hate to walk, I know.) Perhaps someone sabotaged the ritual by walking the wrong way; they were drinking, after all.
There is some consolation: a neighbour’s maple has only just shown signs of new growth.
I keep watch on mine each day.