you’re doing a good job

Retired President Harry Truman took daily walks around his neighborhood in Independence , Missouri . He was accompanied by a Secret Service body guard . The body guard later wrote  that Truman always said something upon passing  a large tree that grew not far from his house . What he told the tree every day was : ” You’re doing a good job . “Angelus Oaks Nov. 17,2014 002

Ada and I took a little hike in the woods today . There were lots of trees . I thought of the Truman tree tale . I told it to Ada as we trudged along and she may have wondered if the altitude had got to my head .  But then I asked her what was running through her mind , out there on the switchback trail up the mountain , with birds fluttering , occasional chipmunks racing , in a world of trees .Angelus Oaks Nov. 17,2014 019


When I was 18  I was up in these mountains with a group of inner city kids . They were nine or ten years old and city kids . Most of them had never been out of the inner city . Never in the wilderness .  My group was a spirited bunch and we were on a long hike .Angelus Oaks Nov. 17,2014 016

One little guy suddenly crumbled down onto the trail and moaned . I ran up to him and heard him whimpering : ” My heart ! My heart ! ” That wasn’t what I would have chosen to hear right then , out in the middle of nowhere .  The guy was a complainer , yeah ; but then again , he had to be taken seriously .

No cell phones in those days . The other groups from our camp were up ahead of us , and behind , but perhaps miles away . I was it . Alternatives would have raced through my mind  had there been any .  I had one desperate idea I thought that I’d try .

I had a first aid kit with only a bandage , some antiseptic , and a couple of Pepto-Bismol tablets .  I told the ‘my heart, my heart’ kid , who was clutching his chest , that I had some extremely powerful heart medicine . It was so powerful , I said, that I could only give him a small piece of the pill . I broke the pink tablet apart and gave the little kid a piece of it . And then I waited .

Three or four seconds later he said that the heart medicine had worked . He stood up , brushed himself off a little , and we were off . I was breathing  again as my group continued to our rendezvous point somewhere up ahead .Angelus Oaks Nov. 17,2014 009


I was thinking, too ,  about this odd  incident as Ada and I were hiking today .  She told me that she was thinking about letters . She found herself  wondering about her use of the English language . Use of the proper article was a particular  concern for her .

The trees were watching and listening . The birds ,  I suspect , were eavesdropping , too .  I could have sworn I heard a tall  ponderosa pine tell Ada that she was doing a good job . Just like that , in kind of a whispery voice .  Maybe it was my imagination ,  though .  Could be the altitude getting to me .

Burt , of Burt’s Bees , said he never had a complaint about an oak tree .  I , on the other hand , have some oak tree complaints , but I’ll let those rest for now . I’ve got a huge one in the corner of my back yard . Three of my neighbors have it , too . Same tree .  It drops acorns all over that sprout all over the garden . It dribbles  sap anywhere underneath itself . It grows this way and that , carelessly , inelegantly . ( Okay , so I didn’t let them rest . )  It does a good job , though , that oak tree .Angelus Oaks Nov. 17,2014 010

I was surrounded by trees  today . The city below carried on , I suppose . The trees down there ,  such as the oak in my yard , do their best in a tough environment . Oh , I guess a few of them wish that they could crumble to their knees , sink down onto the ground , and whimper . but they go on ; they go on without  powerful heart medicine, or Pepto-Bismol  ; and , they do a good job .BERLIN trip 2014 096



Filed under humor

3 responses to “you’re doing a good job

  1. I love when you write these meandering posts. I love the story about the heart kid. Quick thinking on your part. Interestingly, neither of you will ever know.

    I’ve been mopping up the leaves from my neighbor’s oak tree for weeks. That tree is not doing a good job. That tree needs to be taken down and do a good job of providing warmth to a room. It’s sick and breaking apart and smashing my fence from time to time. What was that you said…let it rest?

  2. Nice reflective piece. Something new here. Until you got to the Oak tree. But yr still doing a good job.

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