The Tree

The Story of the Tree

Many years ago, when I first moved to Atlanta Georgia, we bought a house that had a great old tree in the backyard. Unfortunately, by the time we got the house, the tree was not looking very healthy, so we set about trying to figure out how to help it.

My wife called a tree surgeon, and he climbed up into the tree with all kinds of tools. When he told us solemnly, “Your problem is called ‘brittle branch disease’. You see this?” He took a branch between his hands and bent it so it snapped cleanly in half. “That’s not supposed to happen. The branch should be supple, bend and flex like a living thing.”

We agreed that sounded pretty serious and asked him what we could do. “Well,” he said, “unfortunately there’s no cure, but there is a product you can smear on the branches every 4-6 weeks that keeps them more supple.”

We bought that product, and I spent hours climbing up into the tree and smearing it over limbs as far as I could reach. It was very expensive and time-consuming and it didn’t really seem to be helping much, so we quit it.

Just before we quit, a friend suggested I call the county extension agent, and she came to see the tree. We told her about the tree surgeon and the goop, and she shook her head and smiled sadly. “I’m sorry you had to go through all that,” she said. “but I can see from right here that your problem isn’t brittle branch disease. This tree is suffering from ‘Dry Leaf Disorder.” She plucked off a leaf and squeezed it in her hand, and it turned to powder. “You see that,” she smiled. “That’s not supposed to happen. The leaf should be green and humid, springy and resilient.”

We could see that she was right: the leaves were very dry, so we asked her what we could do. “Well,” he said, “unfortunately there’s no cure, but there is a product you can mist onto the leaves that keeps them more supple.”

It sounded silly, but we were desperate not to lose the tree, so we bought the mister and used it for a few weeks, but it was very expensive and time-consuming, and it didn’t really seem to be helping much, so we quit it.

We hired a landscape service to take care of the yard, and the boss, looking over the job, commented on the tree. We told him about the tree surgeon and the extension agent, and he laughed out loud. “Them ivory tower types!” he snorted. “They don’t actually work with trees every day the way we do. Forget about brittle branch disease and dry leaf disorder. Your problem is called ‘Loose bark syndrome’.” He pulled a jackknife from his pocket and chipped at the bark lightly. A chunk of it fell away from the trunk. “You see that,” he said. “That’s not supposed to happen. The bark needs to be tight against the trunk!”

We looked at each other for a moment, then we asked what we could do. “Well,” he said, “unfortunately there’s no cure, but there is a kind of organic resin glue that I can inject behind the bark when we do your lawn, and that will hold it firm like it should be.”

We found someone else to do our landscaping and left the tree to its own devices for another month or so. I was home one Friday afternoon when a big sanitation department truck pulled up. I went out to see what was going on when they begin digging in a corner of the lawn. The driver told me they were checking to see if there was a ruptured line.

Sure enough, an hour later they had uncovered a serious leak that was dumping raw sewage into the root bed of the tree. They repaired the leak and we spent a week flushing the roots with water a few hours a day. Within a week, the tree began to look better, and in a month it was a picture of health, branches, leaves, bark and all!

When I started doing brain training, I realized that I had a tool that worked right at the root of performance, mood, executive control, learning, physical function and all. We watch the symptoms, but we train the root.

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