Logically, I’ve always admired trees for their shade on hot days. Every child loves a good treehouse.
But now I look back on the trees of my childhood and think of them less as convenient props, and more as memory-holders in the landscape of life.
Summer nights with my grandmother, drinking glasses of cold sun tea under the dogwood near her back deck.
The row of trees — elms, perhaps? — planted long ago as a windbreak in front of the western Oklahoma farmhouse kept in my father’s family. The branches of one formed a perfect seat for reading.
Helping plant the maple in my parents’ backyard when I was the age of my oldest daughter. Now both of my daughters play under it and swing from it. This tree will have triple the memories.
Planting a tree also can be a tangible way to remember someone who is no longer with us. That’s what my family plans to do this spring to memorialize our dog, Daisy, who died in February.
When I walk under the trees at Gathering Place, several that are at least a century old, I am struck by the care given to their preservation. (You can read about the depth of this priority here.) The park’s largest tree is called the Reading Tree. Under its branches, children run, play and listen to stories. Like the park itself, the tree is becoming a memory-holder for young Tulsans.
Of course, like people and dogs, trees don’t live forever. For some, the conditions aren’t right. Others become diseased or infested, like the silver maple we lost last fall to borers.
I’m touched by MOKU’s creative use of fallen trees in Hawaii and Oklahoma and intrigued by the second life DoubleShot Coffee Co. gave to the wood from an old Indiana barn at the coffee shop’s new location. These trees and former trees have stories yet to tell.
Our yard’s four surviving trees were all given to our family: two as housewarming gifts; one, a transplant from a neighbor’s yard; and the other, my favorite, a little redbud given to me by my grandfather.
Yes, trees have a lot more meaning to me today. Now I look at them and think, aren’t they all gifts?
Your Tulsa tree hugger,