In 2008, at our request, the city planted a redbud tree in the tree lawn in front of our house. It was a little taller than I was.
The winter of 2009, you will recall, was a hard one, and in the spring only a few branches budded, most of them appearing to be dead. The spring and summer of 2009 were also a time when my career appeared to be dead, or at least moribund. Having been laid off by The Sun, I was fruitlessly applying for other jobs and scratching around for freelance work.
At loose ends on many days, I spent time trying to revive the faltering redbud, watering it nearly every day and fertilizing it at intervals. It produced some leaves, and I was encouraged to hope for it.
The following summer, when The Sun hired me back as night content production manager, the tree budded more vigorously and put out new branches. I pruned most of the dead ones and kept up the watering and fertilizing.
Today, as it blossoms again, I can say that my career, such as it is, continues, and during my hiatus one substantial thing that I accomplished was to keep a tree alive.