By Dorian Taylor
There are many trees in our yard, each with its own story. Some we planted, some were planted by my grandfather before 1946. That is the year he died, and I was born. I just missed meeting him by a couple of months. Grandpa planted our lone Bartlett pear which was once part of an orchard. He also planted the two Norway spruce in front of our house. He was told they would not grow taller than the house. They are three times the size of the house now, but they do shield us from winter storms and keep the house cool in summer.
The Eastern Redbud was planted in 1998 in memory of my mother-in-law who grew up close to nature in West Virginia. When we went to W.V. for her funeral in April, we could see the redbud blooming in the forest among other trees that did not yet have their leaves.
There are also fruit and nut trees: pecan, black walnut, apple, plum and the pear. They all keep the squirrels and birds fed. The very top of the pear tree provides a great look-out point for our resident red-tailed hawk.
The one sugar maple gives us a beautiful show of yellow, red and orange leaves in the fall. It has supplied some sap to Hilltop Farm for maple sugar.
However, my favorite tree is no longer with us. It was a large Crimson King maple tree from my childhood. The trunk was maybe 12 feet around and 40 feet high. The leaves were a rich red in the spring, turning to a dark maroon shade later in the summer. This tree was in my grandmother’s yard, a tree that I felt was mine. I climbed it often in the summer. I don’t remember my siblings ever going up it. There was a stone at the base of the tree I could stand on and jump to grab the first branch. While holding the branch, I would walk up the trunk, throw my leg over it and lay there for a while, just hiding in the leaves. There was an obvious pathway around the trunk and up into the top. I knew which branches to step on, where to put my hands, which branches to duck under. It was dark and cool within the branches and the many leaves. It was comforting and exciting at the same time.
I have three siblings. We had a typical ‘50s childhood: running free around the neighborhood; riding our bikes across the Thompsonville bridge to Enfield; spending Saturday afternoon at the movies. The tree was my quiet spot to spend time doing nothing. Through the winter, the tree was always there waiting for spring when I could climb again.
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