I planted a tree.

Right after my surgery last year, in fact. Probably I shouldn't have, six weeks out, but it was spring, and I found a pretty one I could fit in my little Subaru, and, well, I was sick of being sick. And it seemed important, somehow, to plant something lasting, and to do it myself. So the week before I went back to work, I dug a bed, lined the edges with cedar left over from the deck, and planted an Evans cherry. For those of you not blessed to live under the infamous Chinook arch, consider the conditions here: 3500 feet above sea level, semi-arid, a wind that's been known to blow trains off their tracks, an absurdly short growing season, and snow in any month of the year…only not, reliably, in the cold ones. You gotta be tough to survive this climate.

Evans cherries, they tell me, are definitely tough, as long as they make it to dormancy before winter. So when my summer energy faded with the shortening days and the first really cold snap hit before my little tree lost its stunning orange-red fall leaves, I wasn't holding out much hope. Weather like this can do in even established prairie natives; fruit trees, especially newly planted ones, are much more fragile.

As was I, this winter that seemed it would never end. But look:

We made it.


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