Tree Hugger?

Since this is National Arbor Day, it seemed a good time to think of trees worth hugging. I’ve known several in my lifetime. I’ll start with a couple from my childhood.

One was a spreading apple tree in the back yard. It bore forgettable apples suited only for Mama’s applesauce – but oh those branches! They spread four ways with enough shade for a four room playhouse. Other days, the trunk made a backrest for comfort as I lost myself once again in Little Women.

The second was a chinaberry tree with lovely delicate flowers in the spring that presaged squishy chinaberries they turned hard later in the fall. They created variations on a theme of “Ways to Annoy a Sister” depending on whether they were grossly soft or pea-shooter hard. Fun, either way.

Fort Sam Houston in my children’s childhood had oak trees that created an arch as they lined both sides of the street in front of our house and a bonus towering oak out back that shaded the swing set and a picnic table. Altogether they formed the setting for a junior high son who woke up one morning to find he had been honored by his peers with a massive T. P. array. It was his honor – he got to clean up. How sad to find they had all been cut down when we returned for a visit a couple of years ago.

My arms won’t reach all the way around one of my favorites. I love this tall backyard oak shimmering in spring breezes, cooling the summer heat, and bared for winter with squirrels using it for a playground. I especially like it for proving the naysayers wrong. Several times shortly after we moved in almost fourteen years ago, authoritarian people pronounced it on its last legs because of a trunk defect and said we should have it removed. Trees dropped or broke off all around it during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. You can see from the picture that it is in its glory as winter finally turned to spring.  

The woods out back formed a major part of my share of the decision to buy our present home. But this tree-hugger can be tempted. The Arbor Day Foundation [] made an offer of ten trees for $10. What did I have to lose? The ten trees turned out to be ten sticks, supposedly color coded to identify them. I spent a good part of a morning deciding. Is that white or yellow? Is that blue or green? Is that – well, let’s just say the Arbor Day Foundation is a little color challenged. I got them all in the ground and fully expected nothing at all to happen.

My pictures prove otherwise. All but two of the sticks thrived and grew, an excellent percentage for me. Two of my favorites are in the pictures. I am really fond of the redbud with good hugging properties. I admire the hawthorn from a distance – too many thorns.