“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Chinese Proverb
The house on Oak Street where I grew up had a big old oak tree in the middle of the front yard and an equally big one in the back yard. Both trees had been trimmed so the branches started at least as high as the roofline of our one-story house so the trees weren’t good for climbing.
I was particularly fond of the tree in the back yard. When I was in grade school, my pop managed to loop a rope around one of the big branches and made a tire swing. I loved it. Since the tree shaded a large part of the yard, it was much cooler out there in summer.
Pop also had lightning rods installed on each tree. I think I was maybe five or six years old, and I remember my mother fussing about the cost. I don’t remember lightning ever striking one of our trees, but I have a vague memory that lightning did strike one of the trees on a neighbor’s property. I remember wondering if the metal rope snaking down the side of the tree would hurt it.
I am around my hometown fairly often, but I don’t usually go through my old neighborhood. One night a year or so ago, I went on Google Maps and found the old address. When I pulled up the actual view, I was startled to see the front yard oak tree was gone. Since there wasn’t even a stump, I realized the tree must have been gone for some time. I think that even if I drove by the house and noticed that the tree was gone, I must have blanked it from my memory.
I dream about the Oak Street house sometimes. It’s usually a setting for a dream “plot” that doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with the house or my real memories of growing up there. The trees in the yard are an integral part of my real memories.
The city where I now live is known for its “tree canopy.”
Currently the city has been doing a major water/sewer project on the main road in my neighborhood. In the last several weeks, due to this project, they have cut down two wonderful old trees. I cried as I watched them take limbs off of a tree this morning, a tree I have seen every day for the twelve or so years we’ve lived here. It’s like saying goodbye to a friend.
Trees add so much to the neighborhood and the streetscape. Trees offer shade, refuge and help filter our air.
When my husband and I sit in our backyard, we admire an old oak down the way. We worried after an ice storm several years ago caused several big limbs to break. Despite the damage, the tree has come back and we often see birds of all types in the branches.
Trees represent life and while rooted in the earth, a tree’s limbs reach for the sky.
Now there’s a lesson for us all.