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A Giving Tree, Regifted: A True Christmas Tale

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

During the 27 years the Gurfields have called Santa Monica their own,
an unflappable tree stood outside their home;
ushering sidewalk pedestrians and all passersby,
and shading the family when the mercury rose high.

The tree seemed happy, the tree seemed glad.

Yet one day in November, after their kids had all grown
and long after this tree entered life's winter alone,
it withered and faltered and began looking quite sullen.
One morning the Gurfields awoke to find it had fallen.

"It was looking poor. You could tell it wasn't well.
We found that it had fallen," Joan Gurfield would tell.
"It was blocking the sidewalk so we called the City
and they took it away," the mother of two said with pity.

While an old stump may be a good place to rest,
for another tree Gurfield began to look to invest.
Because the tree's spot was 'tween sidewalk and street,
the Gurfield's were informed 'twas the City's duty to meet.

Would Joan's tree planting case gather dust on the shelves?
"Wait six months," was the word, "or replace it ourselves."
The City's tree planting fund, the Gurfields were told,
at the end of the year had no money in hold.

At about $600 dollars, a new cedar's cost can be steep,
admitted Walt Warriner, charged with the trees down the streets.

It was with Forester Walt that Joan had spoken;
a stroke that turned out to be more than a token.
For in the end of the tale Walt would turn the red tape
into a bright Christmas ribbon with a big flowing shape.

"Every year employees hold a bake sale," Walt did say.
"They purchase a tree for the (City Hall) foyer,
which we usually replant (outside) in a park
or the street right of way," was Walter's remark.

This year, $375 was raised for the tree,
which adorns standing tall until past New Year's eve
the door in the lobby Bob, Ken, Richard and Kevin,
with Herb, Pam, and Bobby pass by around seven.

Over 20 feet tall, with presents beneath,
the cedar that stands at the entrance bequeaths
greetings on planners, designers and architects,
and the smiles it cajoles have quite an effect.

The tree seems happy, the tree seems glad.

"We were talking about where to plant it," Warriner recalls,
"and that's when I remembered to gave Ms. Gurfield a call."
More than companionship and aesthetics the cedar brings to the walls,
its environmental benefits stand just as tall.

Ficus, canary island pine and cedar "all help absorb particulate matter.
They allow rainfall to drip slowly and reduce urban runoff
and (in addition) offset Carbon Dioxide emissions."
For Walt, tree planting, of course, is a mission.

As for the Gurfield's, they said, "We got a nice little holiday gift,"
that gave their spirits and souls a Christmasy lift.
"We'll get to see it grow," said Joan, happy and glad,
a new tree will start life again in the Gurfield's front yard.

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