In 1995, we built our current home in a then new subdivision and ours was one of the first houses constructed. The few that came before and many that came after chose palm trees for their yards. We wanted something different and chose a brace of red maples for the front yard.
Our red maples are located: one square in front of my office window (by design to help shade it from the setting sun, since it faces due west) and the second in the corner on the other side of our garage and driveway.
When we moved in, our backyard had full grown pine trees from a copse of woods behind our house. I remember meeting the contractor to mark the trees, within our property line, to keep.
One corner inside the line didn’t have a tree so my wife, Daphne, planted a crepe myrtle there after we moved in. Seemingly just a stick I did not think would live, that sapling became Cassidy’s tree (she’s my next oldest daughter who was born two months after we moved in). She grew up with that tree. As soon as she and it were sturdy enough… up the tree, she climbed. As it shot higher than she was tall, it was as if the tree stooped to lift her from the ground and held her as they looked out over their world.
We celebrated 21 years in our home this past November. My oldest daughter, now 28 years old, went from 7 to 22 here. My three other girls, from newborn babies to 21 and 16.
And my red maples, and Cassidy’s tree… they have grown to be beautiful, too!
The maples give me a taste of the changing seasons (something unfortunately not extensive, even in North Florida) that I savor. And as I look out my office window each day… I see my red maple, the one that stands just outside, and I feel just as rooted as it.
In the backyard, Cassidy’s tree is tall, lean, and gorgeous just like her. I cannot see or think of it without visualizing a slideshow of Cassidy through the years. Just as I cannot look out on our backyard and not see my oldest, Karen, with her explorer kit and magnifying glass finding and studying ants and lizards (and regrettably where the Great Snake Incident occurred, when I deeply angered her by stupidly killing a harmless snake). I see my three youngest as babies, in their walkers, on the patio… the breeze blowing through their hair as they smiled up at a bright blue sky with the green needles of tall pines, in the background, glinting in the sun. I can still hear the sound of their laughter, that rang in the air and was (is) such a joy. I see them as young children gathering pine cones for winter fires, and them chasing around with dogs running about. All my girls, at different ages, playing in and on their fort, and its attached swing and monkey bars (Amelia and Bonnie calling to me, “watch me… look at me, dad.” as they made their way across them the first several (dozen) times.
I’m firmly grounded with my lovely wife, daughters, dogs and my trees… they all make me feel… at home. And I think of this line from an old(er) favorite song:
“When I was young
I dreamed a young man’s dreams
I saw in your eyes
The things I’d never seen
But now I grow old
But I don’t really mind
Cause can’t you see with my family
We’ll share these timeless memories.”