April 8, 2021 –
The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A ﬂat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused brieﬂy at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles, and he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife. Afterward, he walked me to the car. We passed the tree, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again.
“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there ain’t nearly as many I remember hanging up the night before.”