By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 22, 2015
John Gruen

Right now there are just so many things to worry about. Troubling me this week, in no particular order:

  • If I take Extra-Strength Non-Drowsy Sudafed for five days in a row, will my liver explode?
  • Is my 15-year-old son ever going to find a job for this summer?
  • Will the Romanian Parliament really pass a bill that fines witches if their predictions don’t come true? Is this really the kind of world we live in?
  • What if I forget Valentine’s Day? It just keeps getting closer and closer.

And so on. But I think the thing that is really waking me up at 5:20 every morning is the umbrella pine that I planted next to my driveway two summers ago. Right now it is about five feet tall and is more than 70 percent covered in snow. Correction: It is covered in snow, and ice, then more snow on top of that, then some snow with a bit of gravel from the driveway thrown in, then another little layer of cleanish snow, and then a big thick coat of ice on top. A layer of ice so smooth and so thick, in fact, that it looks like something from an animated movie. Ice Age, maybe.

Anyway, I put a lot of faith and trust in this umbrella pine when I planted it two years ago. And now, from what I can see, it looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. The few branches that I can see above the snow/ice combo are tilted down at an unnatural 45 degree angle. I’m no horticulturalist, but from what I can gather I think pine branches are supposed to angle up, not down. At this point, after the spanking Mother Nature has given the greater New York area this winter, it is much too late to try to dig the branches out, due to the whole ice situation. Besides, a few weeks ago I tried digging out the boxwoods in the front of my house, and I think I may have done more harm than good. And let me tell you, those boxwoods weren’t cheap. But we’re not going to dwell on that.

What I really want to know is: Can one lonely youngish umbrella pine withstand weeks and weeks of ice and snow nearly covering it completely and forcing its branches into an unnatural 45 degree angle situation, and emerge in springtime as a happy, healthy tree on the way to a long, productive adulthood? Or do I need to factor an umbrella pine replacement (not to mention six boxwoods!) into the spring gardening budget?