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Mild Scott's Tree: A Civil Trespass
Mild Scott's Tree:  A Civil Trespass | horticulture, law, legality, letter of the law, spirit of the law, anarchy, dendrology, landscape plan,

Sometimes the law frees us with its safety net, sometimes the law traps us within its mesh,  sometimes the law falls away like broken string and doesn’t matter.

I had a classmate in law school who possessed a mild, quiet, studious personality.  I’ll call him Scott since I don’t want him ending on some blacklist.

Scott never broke rules. He parked his car within the lines. He arrived early for class. He never questioned authority.   

This was a man some called upstanding, and others called docile.  You would guess his dreams were filled with corporate agreements, property deeds and business contracts.

You would never guess that late in the dead center of one night, this classmate snuck onto the university campus with a small tree.  Scott scampered from shadow to shadow, from building to building, until he arrived at his secret appointment.  At Scott’s side a beautiful woman held a shovel.  Scott set the tree down.  They both checked for security.  Then Scott took the spade from the woman, positioned it, pressed his foot onto the blade, and cut almost silently into the grassy turf and loam. 

This continued for several minutes.  Then Scott stepped back from a fairly sizeable excavation.  The woman gently picked up the tree, and slid the root ball from the container.  She placed it into the hole, and then she and Scott quickly pushed the earth in around it, and patted it down.  They stood up, checked around again for security, and quickly scampered off with the spade, moving from building to building, shadow to shadow until they were safe off campus.   

Scott showed me the small tree some time later.  The university grounds crew had assumed the tree was part of the horticultural master plan.  The tree was pruned, healthy and vigorous. It stood apart from the rest of the trees, shrubs and plants, and I thought eventually someone would remove the tree. I was more astounded, however, that Scott had been moved from his center of machine logic to a fireball of passion. Thus, law-abiding Scott illegally planted a symbol of his love.

I forgot about the tree, and I lost contact with Scott.  Then years ago, I went to the university on some business.  As I was walking by a building, I remembered serene Scott and his criminal and civil trespass upon campus.  Almost automatically I calculated the number of years that have passed since the expiration of the statute of limitations.  Then I knew that Scott got away with it. 

Because of the growth, it took awhile to figure out which tree was Scott’s tree.  Then I saw it. The tree had survived numerous building campaigns and grounds crews.  The interloper tree appeared to fit perfectly within the master plan as though it had been on the original horticulturist’s schematic.

Mild Scott’s Tree is a marker to Scott’s only act that that did not fit within his own, meticulous step-by-step, law-abiding personality. Mild Scott’s Tree is strong and green and flourishing.

I checked by the university recently on business. More importanty, I meandered on my way to see Mild Scott’s Tree.  Still it grows.