Ever since reading Shel Sliverstein’s heartbreakingly poignant story of The Giving Tree as a little girl, I have been enchanted. If I’ve climbed it, planted it, dangled or swung from a swing hung from its arms, it has captivated me. The drooping branches of my best friend’s weeping willow became a grand mansion. The roots of the giant oak in the school-yard gave shelter to a gaggle of girls marooned on an uncharted island. The walnut tree in the backyard of my grandma’s house beckoned me to scale her gnarled trunk and rest in the firm cradle of her branches. The California Redwoods gave flight to fancies of fairies, nymphs and dryads. I have a love affair with trees.
Thanks to The Giving Tree, I have been a practitioner of personification with many of the significant trees in my life. The tree that held my first tire swing was a beautiful, nurturing, graceful woman who offered wise counsel to me as I drifted back and forth beneath her lush canopy of green. Grandma’s walnut tree was a giraffe on the Savannah gently loping across the tall grass carrying me on her back. The most enchanting trees of all, the California Redwoods, have been ambassadors of their race, reaching with their magnificent beauty into my soul and captivating me for all eternity.
I have trees of my own now. Planted with love on our little plot of land. Some bless us with their fruit, some put on a show for us year after year with their vibrant colors. These trees help mark the history of my little family. On the first day of school each year, I photograph my daughter in front of the pomegranate tree we planted for her sixth birthday. We watch our daughter grow and blossom and the tree mirrors her rhythm.
My favorite tree is the Liquid Amber living in our backyard. When I watch my daughter swing in her branches, the tree shakes with delight. She’s like a guardian, a playmate, and a friend. In autumn she releases her golden leaves in a cascade of color with every swish of the swing my husband hung from her branches. In winter, she shows off her intricate form in shadows cast by the low-lying sun. She can’t wait to explode with new life every spring and burst her new leaves almost overnight – excited for summer when her family will be spending more time under her shade, enjoying her gift of her cool shelter. She has heard our stories and she keeps our confidences. She even permits herself to be a scratching post for the family cat. She is our giving tree, and she makes us happy.