My thanks to Georgeina Knapp for this lovely story.
And to Hamlin Grange for the Photos.
I love trees.
Big or small, deciduous or evergreen.
There were always trees around our house and to me as a child they seemed very large and very old. Maybe that’s why I felt so safe around them.
Three old maples stood along the edge of the lawn, like sentries between us and the world.
Another maple grew at the corner of the garage and along with a giant lilac bush and a cedar made the space between the house and garage a cool quiet, shady haven.
A monumental old apple tree shaded a portion of the backyard and held one end of our clothesline.
A pear tree stood between the apple tree and the house but it met an early fate when its branches snagged onto the clothes line full of laundry — one time too many. My mother did not give anyone many chances — not even a pear tree — if their behaviour didn’t improve.
One tree was special. I loved that tree and our relationship lasted for forty years. ‘Relationship’ may seem a strange word to use about a tree. But this one had a personality and we even had a sort of communication. (I had always been a rather odd child.)
The relationship started when my father took us children to the wooded area near our house to pick wildflowers, as he did every spring. This time I found a tiny seedling.
“What is it?” I asked my father.
He explained that it was a baby cedar. It would grow into a tall tree.
My four year old mind didn’t quite believe it. This was something I had to see for myself.
The baby tree was dug up, carefully brought home and planted in a flower pot.
Month after month, year after year, the little tree flourished. It was eventually planted outside, next to the lumber pile. It grew steadily but was soon in danger from growing too close to the lumber pile so my father moved it to a spot near our back door.
Even through the hot, dry summer days, my tree stayed green.
“That’s no surprise,” my mother pointed out. “It’s close to the well. Its roots have a constant source of water.”
The tree grew fast and was soon as tall, then taller than I. At Christmas we always put lights on it. The first year it held only one light, then each year a few more lights would fit until we had to get more strings of lights to cover it.
I worried about my tree when ice and snow covered it. If a branch got damaged, I suffered with it. On warm summer days I fussed over it, checking for insects and brown spots.
I loved the beautiful cedar scent.
The years went by. After my parents died, I had to sell our home. It broke my heart to leave the home I was born in, and to leave my beloved tree. It was nineteen years before I could return to see our home and my tree.
The house was there but Tree was gone. There was no sign that it had even been there.
Except in my memory. I have never forgotten the seedling that grew into a big, beautiful tree and was my friend for decades.