I want a pink tree. All of the lovely flowering trees in full bloom in the Lehigh Valley in recent weeks have reminded me for several years, I have been meaning to select a new tree for my front yard.
A stroll in my Lower Macungie Township housing development offers a pastel palette of colors, as ornamental fruit trees and forsythia display a springtime eyeful.
Somehow, every year, I get busy with other activities and the trip to a local nursery never happens.
A huge evergreen tree had been on the lawn for decades. My husband used to brag about our huge, wonderful pine.
Then one day, a windy storm – not even one big enough to have a name – broke off the pointed top of the tree, and instead of a beauty, it became an eyesore.
Regrettably, for the sake of neighborhood aesthetics, it had to come down.
As the huge lower branches and then the smaller ones at the top were removed, one by one, I realized what a sizable habitat for wildlife this bit of nature had provided.
Birds had nested there. Rabbits and chipmunks had hidden under the broad lower branches that bent to touch the ground.
Squirrels had scurried up and down the trunk.
Songbirds had rested there, delighting us with their warbles.
It was almost as if a hurricane had come along and wiped out a whole neighborhood.
What is it about trees that they bring smiles to our faces so often? From the first green buds and pastel blossoms of spring and vibrant green leaves of summer to the amazing colors of fall and the snow- and ice-laden branches of winter, trees seem to be in a constant state of transforming beauty.
They are like old friends who return every year, as they present a different appearance in each season.
In 1998, I was living in Kutztown when a tornado touched down in neighboring Lyons and a trail of destruction was left behind in the surrounding valley.
Later that week, I drove down a country lane to interview a farm family who had huddled safely in their basement while the roofs of outbuildings and their home were being torn off.
As they told the sad story of several dairy cows killed in the natural disaster, I looked at the twisted shards of wood, stripped of leaves, that remained of oak trees that once shaded their farm lane and I counted that as yet another tragedy.
I don't travel that country road very often anymore, but when I do, I always gaze at those damaged oaks, some dead, some struggling back to life. They are, somehow, important to me, marking a milestone event in my life.
Trees also tell the story of time passing by. A maple tree in my childhood front yard was barely big enough to sit under as my sister and I wove clover flowers from the lawn into leis on sunny summer days.
Years later, visiting the old neighborhood as a middle-aged adult, I was amazed how much the tree had grown – I could stand under it.
Arbor Day was last week. As an elementary school student, each year on Arbor Day, we would circle a newly planted tree on the school property as someone read the Joyce Kilmer poem we all recall – "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree..."
It used to be Arbor Day always first brought to memory the reciting of that poem.
But in more recent years on Arbor Day, I think more of the habitat lost when that old pine tree came down and of gnarled oak trees along a farm lane.
I am thinking now two pink trees would be nice. Dogwood, cherry or tulip poplar? Whatever I choose, they will create not only a new destination for the neighborhood wildlife but a sense of time and place for us humans.
Planting trees – it's a good thing.