New growing on the roots of the old

Jerry Apps
Many living creatures grow on the roots of their ancestors

The old maple tree had to come down. It was well over a hundred years old, and it had done well—providing a nesting site for birds over the years, shading our cabin, providing a cool spot for us to talk with friends who stopped by for a visit.

It was really four trees in one, all growing from one trunk and one root system. Each year the tree got a bit larger, and the largest trunk, maybe 80 feet tall, began leaning over our machine shed. Reluctantly, I decided this old friend had to come down—the old maple had indeed become a family friend. With the tree down, we had piles of firewood for our wood-burning cookstove. We would be reminded of our old maple friend each time we carried firewood into the house.

The removal of the tree left a big hole in the windbreak for the farmstead. And no shade to protect the cabin on hot summer days. But then this spring, I noticed something unusual on the massive maple stump that remained. At first it looked like a leaf of some kind had landed on the stump.

But it was not a leaf. It was a little maple tree. What a surprise. The little tree, now several inches tall was growing rapidly. It reminded me of a family. When the grandparents pass, the children and the grandchildren live on. Growing on the roots that the grandparents provided. This little maple has a massive root system to grow on. I look forward to seeing it grow.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Many living creatures grow on the roots of their ancestors.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to