In the spring of 2009, the initial building of the workshop had been completed for over a year, and it was time to embellish the surroundings. We decided to plant trees. Ritoma has few trees, the only noticeable ones being those planted on the hill facing the monastery and they are fenced off, protected from the herds of roaming animals. I used to think Ritoma, at 3,200 meters, was above the tree line, but the monastery trees proved otherwise. Rather, it was Ritoma’s exclusive dedication to herding that gave the area its rolling, treeless hills. Grazing animals thrive in an ecosystem of plants, low bushes and flowers.
We bought pine trees from a nursery in Tso and planted them all around the walls of the workshop, adding a fence to protect them from roaming animals. Now, seven years later, they are a few inches taller, often decorated with bits of wool, and their lower branches are gone. The sheep, especially in the early spring when grass is scarce, and fall when it is largely gone, managed to squeeze their way inside the fence to graze anything within their reach. The trees inside the courtyard fared a little better, thanks to the guards. One day we hope they will tower high above the roofline…