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Mary Jo
October 18, 2018



I am the tallest tree in the backyard. There are three oaks and a black walnut that are taller in the neighbor’s yard…but in MY yard…I am the tallest and my homeowner’s favorite!

It wasn’t always this way. My life here in Lisle began in 1988 when one of the boys living here brought me home from school. Everyone in his class got a five-inch-tall seedling to plant in honor of Arbor Day. I was planted in the middle of the backyard and several small rocks were placed around me to keep me safe. The home owner did not think I would live long, but she and her sons weeded and watered and kept the lawn mower away from me. And I grew a few feet high.

When I was about eight feet tall, skinny with only a few leaves growing above the six-foot mark, she decided to “prune” me. Hoping to encourage more leaf growth, she chopped off the top two feet of my trunk. The next growing season, above that cut, my trunk split in two with both sides wanting to be the leader. She knew she had made a mistake but it was too late. I was weakened and thought I was going to fall over during the next good windstorm. But I continued growing, with both “trunks” racing to be the tallest.

At 15 years old, a terrible thunderstorm took down a neighboring willow tree. It fell on me! She was devastated. Her husband had to saw the willow into huge pieces to remove it from resting on my trunk. It took several years for me to straighten myself and, although I lean a little to the south, no one notices except her.

Over the years other trees have been planted in my yard and a few seem to be catching up to me in size: a pin oak, a pine, a magnolia, a Bradford pear and another maple. She loves them all. They are all beautiful and may eclipse me someday, but I’ve known her the longest.  I remind her of her young children eager to embrace nature, her older children helping her plant my tree buddies, her late husband spending hours removing willow limbs to save me and stop her tears, and grandchildren running to touch my trunk to win the race with their “Mimi.” 

Yes, I am her favorite tree! (And need I remind you, the tallest!)


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