The Tree in the Silo
A Metaphor of Me

It has been 75 years since I played Chinese Checkers with Uncle Walter, who owned a dairy farm in Oxford, PA. In my early childhood, my parents would take me down to my Quaker cousins, Laura and Ethel, who ran a dairy farm for their father, Uncle Walter. He was in his early 90s and suffered from dementia.

When I was 5 or 6, I would babysit for Uncle Walter by playing Chinese Checkers with him. I took that responsibility seriously. I tried to explain the game to him. One day many summers ago, Uncle Walter put a marble into his mouth while we played the game. I told him that he shouldn’t do that. The next thing that I noticed terrified me. I yelled to my parents, “Uncle Walter’s mouth is melting.” It turned out that his mouth wasn’t melting. His upper set of false teeth and the marble were falling out of his mouth.

Laura and Ethel had a tenant farmer named George, and he had two sons, Brady and Grover. Grover took me under his wing by teaching me everything I needed to understand about dairy farming. I learned to milk cows and would go to the creamer each morning in a pickup truck with Grover with a dozen milk cans. He would show me how to feed the cows and get ensilage out of the silo. I look back upon those days with fond memories of my time down on the farm.

At the other end of my life, I live in Crown Point, IN. I often use a county road in the past couple of decades. I noticed a solo and an old farmhouse. There had been a farm along with a barn there many years before. Recently, the old farmhouse was torn down, leaving just the solo. A developer was beginning a new subdivision. Whenever I would pass the old solo, I thought it would be only a matter of time before that also would be torn down.

What intrigued me most about the solo was the tree that grew out of it. Many decades ago, the top of the solo blowoff. However, over time, a tree emerged from inside the silo. Initially, my fascination with the solo was that the tree had grown despite the difficulty the tree must have faced to survive. The tree’s determination to overcome obstacles was admirable.

This is a photo that I took of the tree in the silo.


I stood there looking at the silo and tree. Both seemed no worse for wear. As I was thinking about the seasons coming and going for both, I was amazed at their success. I tried to imagine what the cold winters with blowing snow followed by hot summers baking the silo and the tree experienced. Then, it dawned on me that the tree in the silo was a metaphor for my life. I’m 80 years old, which is old for silos and humans.

In my journey down the yellow brick road of my life, I experienced many problems, like dancing with death. Nevertheless, I learned from them and continued my journey. I also questioned what’s it all about Alfie? Life is about sharing.

It wasn’t long before I was thinking about Elton John’s I’m Still Standing.

I stood there thinking about that song...quietly. However, Ginger awakened me from my trancelike experience. She said, “Both of us have done the dance with death, and we are both alive. Let’s enjoy the moment.”

Silo and Ginger