Have you ever loved a tree? I mean really loved a tree, not just love the way it looks? I have loved three trees. Two were apples and one was some sort of pine.
The first tree I loved was one of two apple trees in the backyard of the house in which I grew up. It was small enough that I could climb it when I was very young — maybe six or seven? I remember I called it the merry-go-round tree because as I climbed I held onto branches that went up the trunk, around the tree. One afternoon when I returned from school, someone was in the backyard cutting my merry-go-round apple tree down. I remember running towards the person who was cutting the tree and someone, maybe my father, grabbed me and held me while I sobbed. No one ever explained why they cut it down, except because it had apples that were a nuisance to clean up.
The second tree I loved was the other apple tree. It didn’t have low branches on which I could climb until I was older. Once I was tall enough to pull myself up on the lowest branch, that was conveniently parallel to the ground, about four feet off the ground, I learned to love this tree too. The tree, who I named Charley after a neighbor asked if it was a Jonathan, had a space about 8 feet off the ground with three branches that formed a perfect spot for my bottom, and I could lean back against the middle branch. I spent many summer days in that tree, through college and until I moved out of the house. My parents had it cut down a few years after Dean and I left Elgin.
The third tree I loved was a type of pine tree that Jeremy and I planted. He named it Eric. It grew pretty tall pretty quickly and my parents cut it down after Dean and I moved out of Elgin.
The last tree I want to talk about is a tree that I cannot say I loved like I loved those other trees, but I certainly loved the way it looked in the fall. It was a maple tree that stood in front of our house here in Bethesda. This tree was always the first to turn in the fall, and the color was spectacular, a beautiful orange. Last year about this time an arborist stopped by and told us the tree was dying and they would have to remove it. Today the crew came and cut it down. I hugged it first and told it I loved it.
Losing the tree was not at all delightful, but remembering past trees I have loved was, if not delightful, at least a consolation.
The other delight today was listing to Kate Bush all day through my headphones. I couldn’t bear the sound of the chainsaw, so I went back in time and listened to three of Kate’s albums.