It’s funny how some trees can become such a part of who you are.
Like the ‘Carving Tree’ that I wrote a girl’s initials on next to my own when I was a young boy. She was the girl I came to marry.
Or like the ‘Painter’s Tree’ in Pennsylvania, whose verdure always looked like an oil on canvas, with rich textures and colors against the blue skies beyond the tops of the mountains.
Or like yellow trees in the Fall.
Now my daughter has a tree all her own.
I wonder if she’ll remember it years from now when she visits the old neighborhood and wants to walk under its branches. I wonder if, as a grown woman then, she will climb into it, or lift her own little girl into its nestled branches.
For now, it’s just ‘her tree’ that she climbs every day on the way to school when she walks with her Papa.
The woman who lives in the house behind the tree watches them and takes great pleasure in seeing her foliage bring such joy to a little girl. This past Christmas she left them a note saying just that, with some candy and a card. She left it, of course, in the tree.
Today, it was my turn to walk her to school, since Papa was out of town and I had taken the day off to go to her school picnic. On her second to last day of being a kindergartener, she showed me all the things she usually did on her morning walks.
She raced me to the end of the sidewalk, I held her hand as she balanced on the rocks lining the driveway, and she pointed out where one of the rocks used to be before it moved. These were all major headlines, big news stories in her life. The important details.
We were about half a block away from the spot when she tried to explain to me where her tree was and wondered aloud if she’d be able to climb it today, since it was wet from last night’s rain. I lifted her up into it so she could proudly show me how tall she stands in it and I watched as she placed each of her hands on different branches.
She was nervous and excited. Proud and content. This was love, just being in the tree looking down at me.
On the way back from taking her into school, I passed by the tree again. It’s her tree, I thought. It’s as much her tree as the woman whose yard it is rooted in. And I’m glad she shared it with me this morning.