The other day I shared about our house and our marriage, the thing that has stayed with me in reflecting on those closest to me, is that we weren’t alone. There was a tree in our front yard, it bore the battle wounds of telephone poles and Adirondack storms. It was very nearly split down its center to accommodate the lines and from the nourishment the bugs infesting it gave the pileated woodpeckers that rat-a-tatted morning and night. Shade and music were abundant in its limbs, and time and again we tricked the workers into thinking the tree was not to go.
“Ma’am, we’re here to manage the trees for National Grid. The one out around back and this one out front are on the list” he told me.
“No, not that tree. Don’t you see the mark? They tagged that one to stay, not sure why,” I shrugged innocently.
He checked his clipboard and looked up and down the street, then back to me. “It’s on here.” I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to try and save a city tree. He took a breath, I hurried, “Listen, what if you just trim those branches again? Can you just do that?”
My heart was racing, I loved that tree. A memory flashed of us following a realtor to the house. We weren’t sure which house it was and when I saw the white cape with the black shutters and the big tree in the front yard I gasped, “Oh, I hope it’s that one!” Later, in the middle bedroom upstairs, which I called the treehouse room, I sat in the moonlight nursing Avery. Then came Fin, working new grooves in the memories of that room.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said as he turned and walked down the lopsided stairs. He didn’t cut the tree down that day, or any of the days that followed as we lived there. Then one day I turned down that old, familiar street and she was gone. My throat tightened and my nose stung as the tears came and I said a silent thank you to the tree, the man, and the blessing of those years beneath her loving arms.
I can imagine that moment in the car hoping THAT house was the one. What a lovely nod to the passing of time this first memory of the house and the tree and the absence of the tree captures. Those pictures side by side are priceless.
I couldn’t quite believe they existed.
I so get this. If we were ever to lose our only tree, MY tree, I would be devastated. I always keep a watchful eye on her during Noreasters and hurricanes; sometimes I can’t even bear to watch the deep knee bends she seems to do. The house? That can be rebuilt. But my tree, irreplaceable.
Storms are so hard. We have a poplar out back and she bends and tilts dangerously in any wind. Sigh.
you have such a beautiful blog. i just happened here once and now it’s a favorite. i also love your creative blog title. very cute.
Sean came up with the play on letters and symbols. I love it and him.
Thank you for finding your way here!
When we go back to our old houses, we always look first for the trees. It’s so neat to see the growth on the ones we planted and always a little sad to see the bareness of the ones that are gone.
Your photos and your memories of your tree are both gorgeous.
Thank you, Shannon.
Eerie timing. I came home earlier this week to find a man in a cherry picker sawing branches from the giant maple in our front yard. I know you can imagine my relief when he told me that he was just trimming the branches closest to the power lines.
For me, that tree isn’t about past memories, it’s about prospective ones. This house and that tree are new to us and it’s one of the first things that convinced me that this would be a fine place indeed to raise our kids. xo
They are such important souls, the trees in our lives.
Oh yes. I love this. We had all of our huge neighborhood trees cut down a few years ago. The sorrow was present for all of us on the street. Still is. xo
Do we all have tree stories? I think maybe. There was a big split-leaf maple in the side lawn of my childhood home. It shaded us in summer, gave us leaves to jump in every fall, stood stark and proud every winter and bloomed happy buds to signal the spring. My grandmother, my father and my childhood sweetheart died within months of each other, and not long after all that I went home to visit my mother and learned that the tree, too, had acquired a disease and had to be cut down. I remember pulling in the driveway, noting its absence and running to where its thick trunk had once been, in tears, pounding the ground because I just couldn’t take another loss. Trees can be part of the family, can’t they?