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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Tree

A post by Matt on the 2 Boys in Love blog today got me waxing nostalgic about a tree.  Not all trees, although that's what Matt's wonderful, uplifting post was about.  He was talking about trees in general and was inspired by this wonderful painting he received from the uber-talented Thorny Sterling.

I love trees. All trees, but especially old, gnarly ones that have lived long enough to tell stories of their own if they could. As I read Matt's post, I started thinking about one tree in general: the tree in my mom's backyard. As I typed my comment on the 2 Boys blog, I found myself getting more and more emotional. This is my comment, slightly edited:

We had a giant maple in my backyard as a kid and it was the perfect climbing tree - you could go around and around and around - all the way to the top. I had favorite spots. One giant cubby where I could stretch out against the trunk and read. One where I could straddle the branch like a motorcycle or lay on my belly and put my book/elbows on the "Y" shaped branches and read. We even made a haunted "house" one year - hanging stuff in the tree to tickle you or that you'd have to navigate around as you climb. It was the biggest tree on the block and every kid's favorite - it was like it had a life of it's own. My mom passed a few years ago and I had to sell the house. I wrote a letter to the new owners - a young couple - and told them about all my memories of growing up there - and especially the tree. I literally went out back to said goodbye to it before leaving the last time. This past fall, I drove past the house and saw giant slabs of wood all over the back yard. I wanted to scream. I remember texting my big brother, "They cut down the tree :( " I didn't even need to tell him who or what tree I was talking about. It was a long time before he responded with "They did?" I sent, "Yep" and he sent back a sad face with a tear. Ugh. Sorry. I didn't mean to get all morose, and I'm making myself cry, but my point was, I get it. Trees are so much more than just trees to me.

That maple wasn't just a tree - it was The Tree. There were other trees in our yard all through the years, but they had specific names like: The Blue Spruce or The Tree Out Front, but the maple in the backyard we just called The Tree.

"Mom! Have you seen my bike?"
"Yes, dear, it's right where you left it - under The Tree!"

(Phone call from Mom) "You'll have to come see The Tree before the leaves fall. It's the most gorgeous red I've ever seen this year!"

It earned that title because it was majestic - the biggest tree in the entire neighborhood and had been planted by Mrs. Cedar, the original owner of the house, sometime around WW1. The house was a big old, two-story brick on a hill but The Tree's branches extended out over the roof almost reaching the front yard.  It shaded the next-door neighbor's entire backyard too.

In recent years, my husband and I cursed The Tree because of the sheer volume of leaves to be raked and hauled to the curb. It would take days to clear her yard of leaves. A small sacrifice for all The Tree had given us in return.

I wanted to post a picture of The Tree here for you to see, but I sadly realize, I don't have one. Maybe someday I'll stumble across one - I hope I do - but thankfully, I remember every branch.  I can close my eyes right now and remember where every hand and foot had to be placed on every branch as you climb up, up, up to the very top.

When I finished typing my comment to Matt, I was sitting here bawling as if I'd lost a member of my family and that's when it hit me.

I had.


  1. OMG, girl, you just about broke my heart but I so get that. Still, the tree you keep in your heart has stronger roots than the one those new owners cut down. It has an impenetrable bark, nobody can touch. And I don't know about you but whenever I stumble across a memory that makes me cry I'm always grateful afterwards because with the pain come those very vivid memories; and they're worth it.

  2. Gah. Tears again. Beautiful. Thanks. <3