I grew up with an awareness that there were certain kinds of trees. I noticed that they varied in height and leaf shape and I noticed that certain trees had flowers and that some didn’t. I learned growing up in northern middle Tennessee that dogwoods were good climbing trees and they were the ones that had the pretty flowers in the spring – so delicate and simple and white and unassuming and beautiful. I would stare at the flowers while hanging out in said trees and watch the bees land and drink and leave and then come back with a friend and then leave again. I learned that some dogwoods were pink, but that they were special and not like the wild ones that grew in the fields around the house that I grew up in.
I also learned about fruit trees while growing up. I mowed around them in the summer months and was always puzzled at how small they were. I mean – I got the idea that they were dwarf fruit trees, but they just seemed like apple bushes to me and I had the most fun mowing around them. Dad would weed-eat huge circles around them. He said to help me – I think it was to ensure that the trees stayed in one piece. Either way – it worked.
We also had maple trees. Dad went out to Mr. Robert’s property and got some “fast growing” maples. Ha. I waited for years to be able to climb those trees. It never happened – life has a way of moving folks on and our family moved from that home before I could climb them. We did use them as bases for baseball – 2nd was a little closer to 3rd which was sometimes good and sometimes not – It just depended which base you were on and which one you were trying to get to. I don’t drive by that house when I’m in the area, because I want to believe that those trees are still there. I have no reason to believe that they’re not, but it would really make me sad to see the old place without those trees. They were beautiful and the leaves against a stormy sky were the perfect green against the perfect gray.
I learned that there was such a tree called the “tulip poplar” at my violin teacher, Mr. Mazenek’s, house. I was collecting leaves for a science project at school and he had the most beautiful trees. Mom and I walked with him all over his yard collecting different leaves from different types of trees. I remember the tulip poplar was really big and the leaves were cool and the flowers were crazy to me. To be honest with you, I’m still not sure about them. Tulips are flowers and not trees, but in the case they are one and the same. Maybe I need to spend more time with one and then I’d understand the species better. This was also the day that my mom drove over my violin on the way out of my teacher’s driveway and I cried all the way home and promised to practice every day if she’d get me another one.
She did. I guess I should say, “they did”. Mom and Dad have always been a team.
I learned about tall pines in Mississippi while driving with a youth group to a mission trip and short, scrubby pines while hiking in Beersheba Springs, Tn with my husband, Adam.
When we lived in Chapel Hill, Tn, I watched redbuds spread in the brush with wild Irises and yarrow for competition. Their leaves will forever look like hearts to me and when I see just one in someone’s yard, I feel lonely for that tree – they’re meant to grow together with their roots weaving together underground to keep them stable and safe in the storms that are so windy and in the tornado seasons. They hold each other up and bend and move together as a whole when the wind kicks up. That is a whole diffierent blog post. I have a lot to say about that.
I could go on, but I figure you get the point by now. I’ve learned some things about trees and I like them. Moving on.
Chapel Hill, Tn as a whole has many things to boast. The people there are the salt of the earth and as loving and caring a group of people I’ve ever met in my life. The Duck river meanders through the country side there with a wisened and quiet presence. The state park is at the edge of town and a refuge for the locals. There is even rumor of a ghost on the train tracks.
It is also home to one of Tennessee’s cedar barrens and my husband Adam and I lived in one for the first ten years of our marriage. There are cedar trees everywhere. They grow just for the sake of growing, it seems. So thick you can’t maneuver through them very well and don’t want to, really, because the ticks love them and walking out in the thickets just make you a target for those little creepy crawly icky dudes. Bug spray be damned – you have to about bathe in the really strong stuff and even then, just expect to find one on you somewhere anyway after a jaunt through the woods. Enough. About. That.
I watched those trees. Every spring – every summer – every fall – every winter. They were constant and they were unchanging. They were this silent presence as we worked in the garden or sat in the yard watching the chickens as the sun went down. They were heavy under the little snow we would see in the winter. They stood tall and proud in the spring rain and seemed to dance as the weight of the downpours would hit them just right. We would watch in the heat of the dry summer as the pollen would burst and it would look like a whole hillside was on fire from the dust drifting up through the branches. The seasons changed, but those trees never did and they became something to me that I didn’t even realize was huge until I moved away and I missed those trees. I missed them so much. They had become this familiar thing that was part of who I was as a human being and then they were gone and THEY were ok because they’re always ok and I wasn’t because I was lonely without them.
So I wrote a song about it. It’s called… wait for it…. Cedar Trees. Maybe one day I’ll play it for you.
Love and smiles and always peace,