Apples or Thistles? by E. Dyke
Every year, at Eynsford, in Kent, an 'Arbor Day' is kept, when a number
of trees are planted in different parts of that pretty village.
'Arbor,' of course, is the Latin word for 'tree.' There are not many
places in England which have an annual 'Tree Day.' It is an American
institution. An American settler in Nebraska, feeling sorry to see so
few trees there, suggested that on a certain day of each year the
children should devote themselves to tree-planting. This idea was acted
upon, and the youngsters of Nebraska doubtless enjoyed the fun. The
scheme succeeded so well that it was taken up by other States, and
introduced later on into Australia, and others of our Colonies.
"'Here is a nice little bit of work for you, my lad.'"
The pleasant custom of 'Arbor Day' was begun in Eynsford in 1897, and
was initiated by Mr. C. D. Till, a local landowner. In that year the
farmers and cottagers planted many apple-trees, and the children set a
row of trees on a bank in front of their school.
The reliefs of Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking were commemorated by
the planting of special trees in the village street, and in 1902 thirty
trees were planted in memory of Queen Victoria.
But on the first 'Arbor Day' which was kept in Eynsford, it was
discovered that the planting of commemorative trees was by no means a
new thing in the place. Sixty years before that day, in 1837, a
cottager, named Howard, had planted an apple-tree in honour of the
Queen's accession. In 1897, this tree yielded thirteen bushels of
apples. The old man, upon being presented with a testimonial, made a
little speech. 'If I hadn't planted that there tree,' he said, 'I should
not have had all this here fruit.'
The story recalls another. A Scotch farmer's son amused himself one year
during the summer vacation by sitting on a gate and blowing thistledown
about. The natural consequence was a fine crop of thistles. When, the
following summer, Master Thomas came home for the holidays, his father
took him to the field. 'Here is a nice little bit of work for you, my
lad,' said the farmer. 'Just pull up all these thistles for me.'
As Thomas bent over his wearisome and prickly task, he said ruefully to
himself, 'If I had not scattered that thistledown, I should not have had
to do this!'
We are always sowing and planting something in our lives. What shall it
be? Apples, or thistles?'