Trees fascinate me.
They are deeply rooted in the earth, yet always reaching toward the heavens.
Likewise, we trace our ancestry and seek the divine.
As a child, I loved to climb trees, and for most of my adult life, I have lived in a forest of towering pines.
But at the beach, the sandy soil supports sea grasses, beach roses, scrub pines and other low lying vegetation that are whipped by incessant winds.
Forty years ago, my mother planted three little maple saplings, one in the front of the beach house, one on the side and one in the back.
And they grew…
In 1991 Hurricane Bob made landfall over nearby Newport. The tree that shaded the front deck toppled just missing the house.
I remember my father cutting the limbs into chunks that we carried to a neighbor’s cottage for firewood.
Ten years ago, the tree in the back yard became diseased and insect infested. Slowly, the leaves withered and the bark whitened, branches dropping with each subsequent windstorm. My brother cut it down, and we carried the logs home to burn in our woodstove.
A few years ago my mother once again planted a little maple sapling not far from the stump of the old tree in the back yard.
This year, the long New England winter, followed by a short spring, delayed the onset of foliage that seemed to burst open all at the same time.
Consequently, I cannot recall such a fertile summer with greenery everywhere.
Driving down country roads is like entering a tunnel, where the trees on one side of the street reach out and grab the limbs on the other.
The world around us is alive with birds and other creatures that find refuge and sustenance beneath this vibrant green canopy.
Recently the clan gathered for my mother’s birthday, and we had a tree-trimming party under the huge maple at the side of the house. It was so overgrown that it was beginning to block the road.
A stack of firewood awaits our woodstove.
The tree now covers half of the front yard like a huge beach umbrella.
“How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord,” says the Psalms.
For the first time we sit in the shade of the sapling in the back yard, now grown and reaching heavenward.