September 3, 2018
The tree pictured here is in the front yard of our first Illinois home in Winfield. One early summer day, its branches proved an irresistible spot for our son, then 5 years old, to curl up and read a poetry book. I love this photo because it evokes so many memories of my children's childhood.
Then I start thinking about how many memories of my own childhood center on trees. My sisters and I would pick mulberries from the tree in our front yard, reveling in the tasty morsels until our hands and bare feet were stained purple. In the fall, we would gather hickory nuts from under the tree near the barn, crack them open between two rocks, and devour the little treasure of nut meats inside.
The woods beckoned us in early October. On my older sister’s birthday, we made an annual hike into the woods to check on the "Christmas trees" we had planted with our father. Dad loved to walk across the fields and through the woods with his girls following in a line behind him.
One of our favorite places to play was the apple orchard. The tree branches invited us to climb and stretch and imagine. The russet apple, with its paperlike brownish skin, was extraordinary to me.
Perhaps my favorite tree was the lilac bush, so large and rambling that we little girls could take our dolls and books inside it to play. Was there ever a more perfect place from which to view the world than one surrounded by branches, leaves, and lilac blossoms?
I have learned lessons from trees and among trees. Roots of trees and life go deep, connecting and nurturing across the years.