Ranjana TN

Steve’s lemon tree

When Steve moved into his new suburban house with his parents, he was really excited to see the size of the backyard! It was huge and lined along its walls were tall, old trees. Some were so tall that the branches cast a long shadow on the house. Steve immediately saw that he was going to have a lot of fun in the backyard!

During the first three months of living in the new house, he made a lot of good friends in his school and neighbourhood. Steve was a sociable little boy, so other children took to him instantly. He was also open-hearted, polite, and fun-loving which made him quite popular! He invited his friends over to play with him in his large backyard and they had a grand time running around and climbing trees.

Steve loved the trees. He thought they were very friendly. One day, he decided that he’d plant a tree himself. He went to his mother, “Mommy, I want to plant a tree in the backyard. I want to see it grow big like the other trees! May I do that?”

His mother replied, “I don’t mind that. Although, you must remember that trees need a lot of attention and care! You also need a lot of patience with them. Unlike pets such as dogs and cats, trees take a very long time to become fully grown – sometimes even ten years!”

Steve’s face fell in dismay. “Ten years?!” He said. “That’s very long! Isn’t there any tree that grows faster than that?”, he asked.

“Hmm, let me think. What about growing a lemon tree? They don’t grow as tall as the other trees. But they do grow fast – they will be fully grown in a year! Also, they will bear fruit and you can use the lemons to make lemonade”, said mother.

Steve’s face lit up. That sounded splendid! Oh yes, he’d grow a lemon tree!

“Yes, that would work great Mommy! Would you show me how to do it? I’ll plant it and do everything I need to do to help it grow into a strong tree!”, he said.

Mother liked his enthusiasm. “Of course dear”, she said.

With his mother’s help, Steve planted the seed in a corner of the backyard. He tended to it very closely. He watered it daily and checked every morning if the plant was growing. In about three weeks, a small sapling was visible. In four months, it had grown big! In eight months, it was 10 feet tall and had started bearing fruit! Yellow lemons seemed to cheerily bob when the wind blew. While the tree wasn’t as tall as the other trees, Steve was very proud of his little lemon tree. When summer rolled around, the tree was one-year-old and Steve and his friends had a lot of fun plucking the lemons to make lemonade! Mother was very happy too, seeing that she didn’t need to buy lemons from the grocer’s anymore. She was also happy seeing that the tree made Steve so joyous and proud about his little lemon tree!

One day, father met Peter and gave him some bad news. “Steve, I need to talk to you. I plan to build a large shed in the backyard. I am going to work part-time as a car mechanic and that will need a large space. I’m going to have to cut the lemon tree down because there’s no other place to plant it”, he said.

Steve was shocked. Fell his dear lemon tree? He couldn’t even stand to hear it!

“But father”, said Steve. “It’s my lemon tree! I planted it as a seed and am so proud of it! Please don’t cut it down!”. Steve was very upset; he was almost crying.

“I’m sorry, Steve”, said father. “I don’t have a choice. I really do have to build a shed and start earning right away. We need it to help us make ends meet”.

Steve cried and cried that night. His mother came to his bedroom to kiss him goodnight and saw that he’d been crying.

She said in a quiet voice, “I know that this must hurt you a lot, dear. Your father is right in that we do need to find a way to make some extra money. If you want him to reconsider his decision, you need to show him that the tree can help us bring some money. I’d suggest that you don’t give up and think about it.”

Steve thought about it all night. By next morning, he had a plan. He went to his friends in school and shared the plan with them. Everyone was excited!

That evening, when his father was out, 10 boys and girls got busy picking lemons from the tree. The next day was Saturday and they spent the whole weekend making everything possible from lemons – lemonade, lemon tart, lemon tea cake, and even a homemade lemon disinfectant! They set up a stall near the school. During lunch hour as well as after school ended, the boys and girls were seen selling these delicious lemon things to everyone! Lemonade was particularly in demand during recess and after gym classes were over. Even Principal Raman bought some tarts! Do you know how much money they made in a week? $300! This was after they had reduced the amount they had spent on the ingredients.

Steve sat next to his father and mother on Saturday evening. He gave the $300 to his father and explained what he’d done. Mother had a proud smiled on her face. Steve had done it! Father was amazed! Steve said to him, “Father, I really love the tree. Please don’t cut it down. I will help out however I can to make extra money every week. But please don’t fell the tree. It’s very important to me”.

Father hadn’t realised how important the lemon tree was to his son. Why, he practically adored it! So much so that he actually created a plan, brought his friends together, and ingeniously earned $300 in five days just to show him that the tree could help them make money. He was proud of his little boy.

“Of course, son”, he said. “I won’t fell the tree. In fact, I’ll leave enough space for you to plant two more lemon trees! But there’s no pressure on you to make money through this. Maybe you can make some for your own pocket money. Rest assured that your tree is safe”.

Steve was thrilled! Father built a smaller shed leaving Steve and his friends some extra space for themselves. Steve has planted another lemon tree now, which is growing well! He does sell a few tarts and some lemonade on the weekends to earn his pocket money. He’s become quite the hustler and entrepreneur!