That old tree. It held many a child in the length of it’s years…
As long as I can remember, that towering tree spread it’s branches over us. It stood across the street from my own farmhouse. A bunch of us kids from the neighborhood would use the swing that hung down from a high horizontal branch. The whirring sound of the wind in my hair as I went back and forth, pumping my legs hard. Sometimes, we would push one another, other times one of us would give or receive an “under-duck.” Many carefree hours spent under the comfort of that shade.
At times we’d get going so high, you would be level with that branch that supported the swing, and you’d feel that frightening thump like you were almost going to fall out the back. You know the one…”ca-lunk!” My stomach still lurches a little remembering that jolt. The red dents in my hands would ache after hanging on to the chains so tightly. The seat was a rectangular wooden bench.
My father and grandfather knew that tree. My husband’s grandfather knew that tree, and I suspect his father too. My whole extended family on both sides would have a story to tell. My generation knows the chill of those chain links between their fingers. Even in the summer, the first touch held that steely coolness.
One day, I snapped a few pictures because I knew it was the end of another era. My eyes felt moist.
Just a tree.
But not “just a tree” to many of us.
You see, this tree brought families together. It beckoned neighborhood children together. If this tree could talk, a whole book could be written. It observed many planting and harvesting seasons. Listened to children’s laughter and tears. Umpired baseball games. Heard the roosters crowing their song at countless sunrises. Smelled the fresh eggs being laid in the nearby barn. Weathered so many harsh Michigan winters. Allowed it’s leaves to change colors with each new Fall. Arrayed it’s green leaves as the Springtime would ease itself back into Summer. The breeze would make that “shurring” sound, as the rotation of the seasons would repeat.
But in our area, the Ash trees have all been slowly dying… A tiny ash-boring worm, with it’s armies of millions, worked it’s way into it. Once standing so wide, proud and healthy, it finally succumbed to the mighty invading army. Sadly, this Spring, it was evident that this monstrous tree we had all known our whole lives, was nearing it’s end. The chain that once held the swing was dangling lonely, as the first branches were being felled.
For around 150 years or more, this tree stood. Now it stands in my memories. Goodbye big ‘ole tree. You were one of those constants in my childhood. You were faithful for a time, but my Heavenly Father is always faithful. And He will endure beyond all creation. It’s a comfort that can never be taken away from me.