Monday, December 01, 2008
Tall oaks from little acorns grow.
I've watched the trees closely as long as I can remember and along the way befriended a forest of favorites. There was the generous flowering plum in the front yard on Stratford Drive that blossomed in April, and by July was laden with shiny little plums. I would shimmy up the trunk, balance on a thick branch, and pluck and eat the tart fruit until my stomach groaned. Through 30 summers at Lake Tahoe, I measured the growth of a Ponderosa pine sapling I discovered as a toddler growing next to the redwood deck. By the time I vacationed with my own children at our summer house, that courageous tree was taller than the roofline and was my father’s gauge for whether or not he could take his grandchildren out on the lake for a boat ride. If the tip-top of the pine was still, needles steady, catching the sunlight, we knew the lake was calm. But if the crown was swaying, Papa called off the trip. He knew the white capped waves would toss and bump his little fishing boat and make it difficult to navigate through the rocky cove. But my favorite was the weeping cherry tree I called Pom-Pom that showered me with petal confetti as I lay daydreaming on the lawn. I loved to watch a pair of robins add one thin twig, a piece of torn newspaper, another bird's lost feather, to their nest in the crook of that happy tree. I passed many long spring Saturdays staring through the wizened branches at the blue sky and passing clouds. I wrote my first book under Pom-Pom and vowed one day to publish a thank you poem for my treasured trees. I wanted to show my appreciation for the gifts of courage and hope that trees give to the world—beginning life as a curious seed, growing willfully up through the dark soil, branches reaching skyward anticipating the sun and rain, then later kneeling down to nourish earth with its crunchy, golden leaves. And beginning all over again.