I have always felt a kindred with trees. My childhood backyard had
three, one for each girl. As the oldest, the apple was mine. The pear
was smaller but had great branches for climbing and for swinging
upside down, while I ignored all pleas to “Please get your feet on the
My grandmother’s yard had a large tree right in the center, provider
of shade and base for all games of tag and hide & seek. The bark
always left its impression when you closed your eyes, leaned your
forehead in and counted as high as you could go while cousins
scattered and hid.
Years later a friend introduced me to her secret place—a hollow tree
with a door. There was a nail for a doorknob and when you stepped
inside it was like a fairytale come to life. Sitting inside on a rainy
day, all snug and warm, the world outside magically disappeared.
My chosen college campus had many hills and trees, a respite in the
midst of a busy city. One in particular seemed set apart from the
others, smaller but with charm and grace. Laying out your picnic
blanket on the ground nearby made it feel as if the roots and branches
were graciously reaching out to be a part of everything.
A spate of apartments made the trees at our first Vermont house feel
like a reunion with old friends. One majestic purple and another an
understated silver watched over my toddler boy and my elderly dog as
they carefully raced on the path between.
Trees are like family you wish you had, loyal and attentive; reliably
standing over our homes day in day out. Dazzling us with beauty on
spring mornings, providing shade on a sunny afternoon or a place for a
nest in which to rest on a snowy winter’s evening. Days turning into
years, marked only by rings. Some years healthy and wealthy, others
thin and lean. Layers that make up a life.
On my way to work now I pass by a line of red maples, observing them
throughout the seasons. One in particular keeps her leaves longer,
turning her magnificent colors after the others have gone by. As if to
say now is the time. I’ll do it when I’m ready, not because you tell