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Living Amongst the Trees This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I suppose I have a lot of trees to thank for my existence here in Washington State. Trees, freight trains, steamships, and quite a few people with funny English names. Names like James, Albert, Luther, and Lyda (although I think that last one is Irish... no matter, it still sounds funny). Anyways, back to the trees. Yep, I come from a long line of cherry trees and apricot trees but mostly apple trees. Not that I'm actually related to those tall bark-covered characters, but without them I probably would not live here so I consider them part of my family. As for the actual people responsible for my existence, I have a friendly guy with deep pockets and good timing to thank (and no, he is not related to me either). Okay, I guess I should speak a little bit more informatively (apparently that seems like the point of these essays) so let me start at the beginning, where sensible people usually start.


The beginning begins with a stubborn young English boy and a family disagreement. Believe it or not, this stubborn English guy actually is related to me. Turns out he is my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Luther James Wilson (see, I told you these people had funny names). Anyhow, this Luther guy and his mom argued a lot and after awhile Luther decides he has had enough of the English life. His decision made, Luther runs away from home and at age fourteen instead of writing five paragraph essays while eating Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (like me) he becomes a stowaway on a steamship headed for America.


Of course, this journey does not go quite as smoothly as young Luther expected. When his ship makes a stop in South America to refuel, the crew discovers Luther's trick and threaten to leave him in South America if he cannot pay for a ticket. Luckily for friendly Luther though, a man he had befriended on the journey finds the generosity to pay for Luther's trip. Eventually, the ship lands on the East Coast with Luther safely aboard. From there, Luther travels around looking for a steady job and good wife. Soon, he happily secures both.


Generations fly by and eventually we arrive at my grandpa, plowing the wide, green fields of Calimine Arkansas. This is where all those trees come in. My Grandpa, James Albert Wilson (yes, after all those years they still have not shaken off those English names) and his family receive word from aunts and uncles in Washington that business has thrived in their orchards. After living off food stamps through World War II and barely getting by for so long, a thriving business sounds almost too good to exist. Soon, they have their bags packed and tickets bought for their flight to Washington. My Grandpa James and his family arrive on February 15th 1954 and at age fourteen my grandpa finds himself in Washington State, living amongst the trees.


Later on, my grandpa married Nicole Kay Zilke, whose father had lived in a small town on the Russian border before deciding to come to America and live in Wisconsin for reasons unknown. Once in Wisconsin, Grandma's father spent his summers jumping freight trains to Washington where he, you guessed it, worked in the orchards, pruning and picking apple trees. When he married a fellow Wisconsin resident with uncertain Irish ancestors, the two moved to Washington where my grandma and her sister came into existence. When my Grandma Kay and Grandpa James married, they bought their own orchard (seriously, these people had a weird thing for trees) where they lived and worked with their five children, one of which later became my mom. Now, my mom has married my father, a man with a scattered and uncertain ancestral history. They have five kids, four boys and me. We all live together in a thriving apple orchard. My younger brother's name is James.




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