I began this essay jotting down a few “favorite tree” thoughts, and soon came to realize how so many different trees have touched and shaped my life and memories. So, unfortunately for this essay, but fortunately for me personally, I don’t have “one favorite tree” – I have so many!
I am grateful to my mother for passing on an appreciation for trees – to warm, cool, comfort, and beautify the body and soul. Thank you, Mother, for insisting on saving every tree possible!
After reading Tom Martin’s UnderMain essay project, I briefly considered what tree in my past was a particular favorite, and my thoughts focused on more recent favorite tree memories connected to my sons’ adventures in them – Empty Nest Mother memories, I guess. However, in addition to some favorites of theirs, I realized my entire life has been enhanced by these wonders of nature – so, a shout-out of gratitude to my Creator, first off!
I guess if I had to pick just one, I would pick “my” lemon tree that lived for 37 years after I planted grocery store lemon seeds as a five-year-old in my Mother’s front porch flower pot.
It was transplanted in larger and larger pots, to a final garbage can (not the most lightweight planter option), traveled across two states and to five or six homes and/or apartments, and bore fruit twice. It was a real “pain” to move and transplant, due to the very large thorns and the weight of it as it grew; my father, and then my husband were troopers for lugging it indoors and out, and from home to home, season after season! It lived a long, full, fragrant life in a climate zone not conducive to citrus trees – thus the reason it was a houseplant much of the year.
An early favorite tree was a beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee mimosa, in a spacious yard with a wonderful house full of family love and memories.
The house was situated beside a cemetery and across the railroad tracks; my brother and I grew up safely playing in the yard unafraid of either – although, they may have led to my lifelong love of the Dark Shadows television show, Stephen King books, and scary movies!
At my grandparent’s farm in Carlisle, KY, was a large shade tree that I spent many summer afternoons under, reading a great book in a lawn chair, after helping with the chores.
OK, I mostly just watched and/or rode the tractor as my hard-working grandparents grew three gardens, and raised tobacco, farm animals, and livestock. We also attended the Saltwell Methodist Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows, and I spent time with my grandmother at the ASCS (Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation Service) office in town, where she worked – she let me file papers and work the “adding machine”.
After a move to Morehead, KY in 1969 as a new 5th grader, the K-12 University Breckinridge School (“Breck”) tree out front, with a circular wooden bench, was a favorite for all students; especially for the girls when we reached high school age and sat under while watching the college guys walk or drive by – one of the many perks of attending a small-town university-owned “training” school on a college campus!
At my Morehead home on North Tolliver Road, near the MSU football stadium, we had a lovely weeping Chinese elm, under which I also read and enjoyed alone time, during my preteen and teen years.
With love and marriage, came the many special trees my husband, Richard and I have planted in our 30 years together; to give us warmth, cooling, comfort and beauty – a Mother’s advice is often so wise. Planting a tree together, and watching it grow, is highly recommended – it’s a lot like parenting – you have to take care of it early on, then it will reward you for the rest of your life!
And, finally, with the parenthood of boys, came so many “favorite” climbing tree memories and laughter! Our sons, now grown, gave us full hearts – and some intense moments – of joyful memories from climbing trees at home; in Ashland Park, the Henry Clay estate; at Lake Cumberland, including building a treehouse with Dad, climbing a rope tied around a tree trunk to get to a nearby waterfall where they jumped off, and a tree rope that allowed them to swing over the water and fall in; and climbing tall trees at Meemaw & Poppy’s house.
Those “favorite” trees often held John and Daniel safe and gave them years of testing their limits; but also taught them tough life lessons, by letting them fall, and even allowing a swarm of bees give Daniel a particularly “not so favorite tree” life-long memory!
Thank you, UnderMain, for giving me a chance to slow down long enough to realize what a tree really means to me, and the many family and friends I have enjoyed favorite trees with for 50-plus years.
Truly, every tree is my favorite!