I have a one-of-a-kind tree in my yard, affectionately named, Leah’s tree.
This tree is not unique because it was part of a genetic experiment by Gregor Mendel or that it was gifted to my ancestors by the King of England, but because of what it has seen throughout the decades.
This tree has been present for the lives of 5 generations of my family.
Leah’s tree watched as my great-grandparents dragged a house pulled by horses onto this property and later, watched as my parents built their home next door. My great grandmother had family picnics under this tree. My grandfather, father and uncles would set up a card table in the shade of this tree to play penny poker and gin rummy. Leah’s tree watched the planting and harvesting of my great grandmother’s garden and my grandmother’s garden, the toil of my great grandfather and neighbor cutting down a huge tree with a 2- man hand saw, my grandmother’s cow, Bessie grazing in the yard, the well being dug by hand, the transplanting of flower bulbs, shrubs and trees from other relatives’ yards onto this property and the endless hours of raking and burning leaves.
As a child, I played in a small shed under this tree enjoying hours of make believe. Our wedding reception was in this yard….and 40 years later, Leah & Justin had their wedding reception in the yard. My husband set up a swing set for Leah under this tree, where she would swing for hours each day. Under this tree, we celebrated many of our son, Drew’s birthday parties, while friends and family sat in a large circle shaded by its huge canopy. We put our birdfeeder under Leah’s tree, to watch the birds perch on its branches while waiting their turn.
A neighbor once remarked that she’d like this tree in her yard, so I told her that was impossible because it was Leah’s tree. When Leah was young, she said that if we ever moved, she wanted to take this elm tree with her.
My mom thought that Leah’s tree was so beautiful in the fall with its golden leaves, she’d take a picture each fall, stating that it was more splendid than the year before.
I wish Leah’s tree could share with me the special moments of its life. I wonder what it felt like to protect a fawn under your branches and to watch our puppies and kittens chase around your trunk. Did it tickle when the bunnies would nibble on the grass around your roots? Were you amused or annoyed with the countless squirrels that would run up and down your branches munching on the bounty of seedlings. What was it like to survive the Dutch Elm disease, to be laden with ice in the winter or endure grapevines tugging at your branches?
This story doesn’t have an ending…. not yet. Like most people, I take things for granted. I’m trying to be more cognizant of this and appreciate Leah’s tree each day. And, remember all the wonderful people I have in my life, many of whom, spent time under Leah’s tree.