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People do come with a manual.

What I, Hettie, love most about living in Tennessee for the past five years is that I can suddenly grow things. It was not the case when I still lived in South Africa. Formerly known for my ability to kill even indoor plastic plants, I can now grow almost enough wineberries, blackberries, and blueberries to provide the whole of England with jam on their morning toast. (For those who don’t know about Tennessee Backyard Berry Farmin’, the art is to just keep clear, let Mother Nature take care of things, occasionally shoo the whitetail deer away, and exaggerate your harvest story. And for those who don’t know what jam is - it’s just chunky jelly for British folks.)

People growing is so much harder than this! People don’t flourish automatically, and letting human nature run its course, is a recipe for chaos. If you have been raising kids, please say this with me in a chorus: They ought to come with a manual!

Well, actually, they do.

When you buy a sapling...

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When I'm not okay or you're not okay

Chin up! Suck it up! Just look up! These platitudes go only so far, don't they? Some losses and heartbreaks just can't be patted on the head and be sent to curl up in a corner like a good dog.
If I find the right words, the right time, and the right acts of love to encourage you through one of those big life backhands, based on how I would like to be encouraged, I may get a response that's more like a rabid dog's bite than a good dog's tail wag! Or you may leave me standing on the porch with a steaming hot meal cooked from scratch just for you! Oh, the ingratitude! (Especially infuriating if I could see your silhouette through the curtain, scurrying into hiding as you saw me stepping onto the front porch!)
That's why the trees. If I understand Boxwood's pain, I know I can't just come storming onto your holy ground uninvited. Help can feel like unwelcome pity. The timing is pretty important, and I know that any word I say needs to convey permission to have whatever...
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