Behind our backyard, through an opening in the prickly bushes, was an orchard. At least that was what my mother called it when I was young, growing up in the Chicago suburbs. It was tended by our "weekend neighbor," who lived in the city. He would harvest cherries, plums, and apples and share the fruits with everyone on the street. All of the neighbor kids spent hours climbing trees and making forts in the suburban orchard.
Although there were many fruit trees in the orchard, my favorite was the largest apple tree. Its trunk had limbs, shaped like the palm of a hand, that grew close to the ground. It was perfect for climbing and I would pull myself through all of the branches until they parted, leaving an unobstructed view of the sky and the tops of the other orchard trees below.
Hanging onto the branches, high in the apple tree, I would imagine flying above the orchard and into the clouds and beyond. My imagination was ignited as I gazed through the branches from my hidden perch in the apple tree. It was as if anything could be possible. I would soar above the trees imagining that I was Peter Pan and would never grow up. The tree was my favorite place as a child.
Now, as a grandmother, I wonder about my grandchildren's imagination. Do they have an outlet to imagine the impossible?
Thankfully, the Morton Arboretum cultivates imagination in children, especially in the Childrens' Garden, the Maze, and the many childrens' programs that it offers. I have been grateful that my grandchildren have the Morton Arboretum, a place among the trees that nurtures imaginations of young and old!