This year the warm days in April so quickened all vegetable life, that, when we set forth in the middle of May in search of new trees for the hill, we found to our surprise that the green tassels on some of the trees were as long as one's finger, which gave us a pang lest we were already too late f6r the best satisfaction.
However, as there had been already some six weeks of unprecedentedly dry weather, and signs of rain were in the atmosphere, it seemed that if there was any chance at all, now was our time. We accordingly arranged for a morning among the Pines, and, accompanied by a big farm-wagon to bring them home in, we wended our way along the winding country roads, until we came to where the young trees abounded, and we could select our specimens.
There is little doubt that the stocky, bushy trees of close, heavy foliage, not more than two or three feet high, are the most likely to live and do well, but there are days when one's ambition outruns one's discretion, and, revolting at the slowness of the growth of the little ones, he desires to realize his forest immediately, if only for one summer, and so, like a child who plants his sand-garden with blooming flowers, ventures on a load of trees five or six feet high, in hopes that, after making a brave show for a few months, they will be aided by some happy freak of nature to take root in earnest.
But planting Pines on a dry hillside is like investing in a lottery - the success of the enterprise depends wholly on the sort of weather that immediately follows, and who can reckon with that? Talk of the vicissitudes in the life of a broker what are his uncertain and incalculable quantities compared to those with which the farmer and gardener have to deal? A broker can abstain from buying bonds and stocks if he will, but the farmer has to plant when the time comes, and take his chances, and for surprises the weather can give points to Wall Street any day. With the largest experience and judgment you can no more reckon securely on the coming down of rain, than of Bell Telephone, or Calumet and Hecla.
No sooner are one's trees planted than he becomes a bear upon the weather market, but this summer, Old Probabilities has made a corner with the bulls, and kept rain up persistently, so that the wisest calculations have gone agley; and if Paul plants, and Apollos declines to water, what then?
To return to our expedition. There was an easterly tang in the air, a smell of rain that promised well for the morrow, though in the shelter of the trees all was warmth and sunshine, and bursting buds. Upon the rocks the Lady's-slipper was waving its rosy blossoms, tempting us to add a few roots of it to our shady garden, where it has thriven well. The Beeches and Birches were full of crumpled leaflets, Anemones were blooming by the wayside, the oak-tops were reddened with the flush of early leaf-buds, the forest was astir. Along the fences ran the busy chipmunks, saucily chattering, with their bushy tails trailing behind them. The wood robins were singing in the thickets, and the thrushes challenging us from wayside bushes. In northern Maine one hears always in summer the tender song of the Peabody bird in such places, but here it occurs but seldom, and I missed it from the woodland sounds, of which the air was full. The Witch-Hazel stared at us with its wicked-looking eyes, and the Hemlocks hid themselves behind the Alders.