Sunday, May 10, 2009

Counting Trees

One of my favorite places to run through is a boulevard lined by four rows of huge red oak trees which drop their acorns in the fall…sounds of sizzling bacon. Recently, I stopped by on a low-key five miler and wondered about the trees who reside here. I have jogged here for years, never pausing to count them, and this seemed a good time as any.

You’d think that such a task would be easy, but I kept losing count…did I count that one? Oh yeah, I did but not the one behind it, diagonally to the left…or was it to the right? I simply could not keep them straight, so I decided to revisit during my lunch break.

From my car, I thought this should be a breeze. Nope. Still lost count and could NOT keep track of those counted and those among the not-yet numbered. Figuring that nearby homeowners would not appreciate my slathering the trees with bright red paint in an effort to stay organized, I decided I would return with more eyes.

So I recruited my boys on the way to a Tod Marshall poetry reading. I rolled down their car windows and gave clear instructions to each of them. To my nine-year-old I explained that he was to count only the trees that lined the left side curb and not to worry about the trees behind as we would catch them on our way back up. To my almost 12-year-old, I said, do the same thing, only on the right side. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that they, too, became easily confused, because, after all, I as an adult was having difficulty. They kept messing each other up, so around again we went after I advised them that perhaps counting silently might be beneficial to the other and lead to a more accurate measuring. Then up the other side we went, counting the other two rows.

It was hysterical. I laughed until the tears were streaming down my cheeks. The boys’ facial expressions, responses, and questions just sent me into another peal of laughter.

“Um, Mom, why are we counting trees?” my nine-year-old asked.

“I’m not sure. I guess I am just curious about all these gorgeous trees,” I answered, thoughtfully rubbing my chin.

“If you don’t know why, then why do we HAVE TO count?” he persisted. “Hey, do we include the tree stumps?” (I still don’t have an answer for that one.)

My almost-12-year-old chimed in, “Curiosity makes people do the strangest of things!”

I couldn’t speak for almost 10 minutes, I was laughing so hard.

I finally have some numbers: between the multiple countings, my best guesstimate is somewhere in the 60’s. SWEET! (But please don’t quote me as mine was gloriously messy count. If you need precise numbers, perhaps you should just go count them yourself.)

I am now off to count the lilac bushes in Manito Park’s Lilac Gardens!

LL, 5/8/2009. Prevail.


  1. And math, numbers, have always been so hard for me because they have no visuality.....:)

  2. Sometimes in an absent-minded moment I find myself reciting 87 - 88 - 89 - 90 - 91... The numbers wriggle themselves into the canvas underpinning of my thoughts. Maybe I should try counting red oaks. Haha, wouldn't be near as much fun without your boys, though.

  3. I bet Goat and I could make it fun--we have that low threshold for funny going on. We will have to find out where these counting trees are next time I am in town and give it a try.

    Loved reading about your fun time with your boys, Tattoo Girl. I like it when people do odd things for odd reasons. Strangely delights me.

    Hey Goat, so that is what you call it--a "visuality" problem. Here I thought it was a too much doodling and not enough listening in class problem. But, Ok, we can call it a "visuality" problem if you want. snort snort snort I kill myself. (Low threshold for funny)