It’s time to move my Oklahoma City Survivor Tree seedling out of the large pot I transferred it into just a year ago. It thrived in there, but who knows how much bigger and healthier it can grow in this next season if its little American elm roots are free to do what little American elm roots do?
The thing is, because of our limited lot and expansive pecan trees, there’s no place on our property where Jennifer and I can reasonably and responsibly plant this elm. But somebody should.
This tree is special to us. When we attended the remembrance ceremony on the 24th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing—part of my research for my nonfiction picture book All of a Sudden and Forever—I picked up one of the year’s last available seedlings from the Survivor Tree that overlooks the Oklahoma City National Memorial. That was three years ago, and following the link in this paragraph will show you what the seedling looked like the day we received it.
When the 25th anniversary came along on April 19, 2020, we were a few weeks into the pandemic, and the world’s attention was elsewhere. But the Survivor Tree and all that it represented had been prominent in my thoughts since mid-March, when the first days of lockdown were brightened by the anticipation—and, eventually, the emergence—of the first buds on my American elm seedling since we’d brought it home.
Last spring, that freshly transferred seedling (you can see it in the photo above) played the same role, providing welcome assurance that life goes on. And boy, were last year’s leaves tenacious: The final two didn’t drop off until after New Year’s Day.
But I don’t think Jennifer and I should see our Survivor Tree seedling’s 2022 growth firsthand. We want this tree to live and grow to its full potential, and that’s not going to happen in a pot on our back porch.
So this is where you come in. If having this seedling planted on your property, at your school, outside your church, in your neighborhood park, etc., would mean something to you, and you can commit to caring for it, and I can hand it off to you without my having to drive more than 100 miles, let me know.
In the comments below, or in a private message to me, tell me why having this Oklahoma City Survivor Tree seedling (then sapling, then rapidly growing adult) in your life would be special or significant to you and others.
I live in Central Texas and will be driving to school visits in the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth areas between now and the end of March, so let me know your thoughts on how best for us to make the transfer. For what it’s worth, the tree’s trunk just above the soil line is about a half inch in diameter, and including the pot the seedling is 42 inches tall.
It occurs to me that I’m essentially inviting you to become part of the story that illustrator Nicole Xu and I tell in All of a Sudden and Forever, and I recognize that this is a lot to ask. But if you believe that it would also be a lot to receive, and you’re up for the responsibility of this gift, please let me know.