Today’s post is in honor of our granddaughter’s first birthday! From the time she was an infant, she’s loved trees! I would hold her at the door in their apartment to look out. The tree in their courtyard delighted me with its twisty branches and limbs for sitting on. And Aria fell in love with it. Every time we’d go to the door, I’d say, “There’s your tree!” As the first tender smiles began to appear, many came at the mention of “her tree.” And the photo, taken this past Christmas (2019), shows her wonder at our Christmas tree.
But now, let’s go back to childhood days. Three main types of trees stood tall on our property in Lewisberry, PA: locust trees with their long, brown seed pods, stately pines in a line, and four sugar maples whose leaves carpeted the yard and driveway with gold in autumn. I remember driving into the driveway and claiming it my own personal “yellow brick road” leading home.
As children, my brothers and I enjoyed playing house outside. We never tired of creating natural concoctions in our play dishes. The tiny seeds peeled from the inside of the locust trees’ pods became raisins in mud cookies and beans in our grass soup, sprinkled with sand-salt and dirt-pepper.
Not to be outdone for playtime, the pine trees served as natural batting cages for our endless games of whiffle baseball. Most times, we’d face away from the pines to hit because there was a field on the other side. The man who owned the field often planted his garden right beside our property line (he rotated his crops in field and garden.) He didn’t cotton to little kids running through his seedlings after their wayward whiffle ball. But the pines did fine for would-be-catchers-who-couldn’t-catch.
And the maples? Well, besides their amazing beauty, the leaves gave shade for family picnics and one outside beagle. And their whirlygigs? Anyone else remember calling the maple seeds that? I still love when those seeds come twirling down through the air, sometimes fifty or more at a time. And when they fell to the ground? Why, noses, of course! I can feel the stickiness of my fingers as we’d pry one after another of the gooey ends apart and apply them to our nose to stick straight out or up as a makeshift Pinocchio’s nose.
Then there was the climbing. We had one tree great for climbing in our childhood, and it wasn’t even ours. That same neighbor with his crops had an old apple tree that stood just off the back corner of our property on the edge of his field. He allowed us access to his field to climb that tree. I believe it was past its age of maximum production for apples, but it sure provided a harvest of fun times.
The trunk had grown quite large in circumference, abnormal for most apple trees I’ve seen. About seven feet up, a flat spot had been created amidst the larger limbs that continued up to its grand height. That level area, perfect for at least two kids to sit side by side, became a vehicle of varied sorts for imaginative youngsters, a picnic spot for hungry tweens, and a hiding place for angsty teens.
And I only fell out one time! But oh, what pain. I’d placed one foot on the trunk and the other foot onto the level spot, grabbed the two largest limbs on either side to heft my teenaged self up, felt my hands slip on the bark smoothed by years of similar climbs, and tumbled straight backwards onto my derrière. Physical pain and emotional embarrassment warred as I groaned, stood, and looked around warily, hoping no one had seen my “fall from grace.” That may have been my last attempt to climb that specific tree.
Finally, the last trees which played a huge part of the magic of my childhood … and still do today as a full-grown child … Christmas trees! Through our youngest days, we bought ours from a tree lot. Mom and Dad would wait until we were asleep on Christmas Eve to bring the tree inside, put it in its stand, haul it up on top of a platform, deck it with as many lights and balls and trinkets and tinsel as it could hold, top it with a gold and cream angel, and surround it with a Lionel train and Plasticville village. Christmas morning, we’d come downstairs when our parents said we could, and there it would be – our Christmas tree, a display of radiance and love.
You know, that’s what trees are to me … symbols of love. God created the trees for us – for food, for play, for beauty. My childhood days held hours of play with our family. Christmas trees glittered with ornaments collected as gifts given and received through many holidays. Yes, trees symbolize love to me. And I’m glad I live in a state filled with many varieties to enjoy and pass on the love of to our grandchildren.
What did or do you enjoy trees for – their beauty, their harvest of fruit or nuts, their open branches for treehouses or birds’ nests, or maybe their sturdy limbs for a swing? Which is your favorite tree? What tree played a part in your childhood? Please share your stories!