All Fenced In

All Fenced In by Shirley Brozzo

It gives me great pleasure to present the first of two stories contributed by Shirley Brozzo. Her second story for Voyageur Heritage “Misshepeshu” will be published in January 2015.—ed.

I have driven ‘round here before and passed fields of potatoes or corn. The neat rows of vegetables fairly reached out to hug the shoulder of the road, the side away from the asphalt pavement. They seemed to be quite content in staying in their rows, safe from any passing vehicles. Their farmers must have them pretty well tamed. Perhaps these same farmers can give lessons to the Christmas tree farmers. Unlike the well-behaved vegetables, most Christmas trees I’ve seen have to be curtailed by fences. It’s true! On every Christmas tree farm I’ve ever passed, the trees are herded together and fenced in.

Maybe these trees are not really like their cousins the potatoes or close relatives the corn stalks, at all. Maybe they are more like cattle or sheep who need to be fenced in to prevent them from straying into traffic or getting lost.

I can hear a motorist speaking with a State Police trooper now. “I don’t know what happened, Officer. One minute there was nothing. Then suddenly, this Christmas tree just bolted out into traffic. Before I could slam on the brakes, I hit it.”

Imagine another motorist having to stop and wait while a herd of Christmas trees cross a country road, meandering from one field to another. You should also take pity on the Christmas tree farmer’s wife who has to take calls from the neighbors. “Betty I just saw one of your trees break through the fence. It’s headed toward the Jenkin’s farm again!”

Perhaps the Christmas trees are not like cattle at all, but are more like prisoners at a correctional facility. What crimes could they possibly have committed to warrant being fenced in? Even if a Christmas tree were guilty of toppling over and killing someone, they wouldn’t run away from the crime. No, that tree would just lay there waiting for its capture and punishment.

What other possible crimes could a Christmas tree commit? Needling someone? Being too sappy? And for this they should be penned up?

Perhaps I am being too hard on tree farmers. After all, they do know their plants better than I do. There must be some perfectly logical reason why Christmas trees need to be secured behind solid fences. Or wait … here’s a thought … maybe the fences are not to keep something in…

Shirley Brozzo is a member of the Keweenaw Bay Tribe of Chippewa Indians and is currently the Associate Director of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center at Northern Michigan University (NMU) and a Contingent Assistant Professor for NMU’s Center for Native American Studies.

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