Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the old tree

It's official- our "snake tree" is gone. 

The house we live in now was once my grandma Sally's.  Having been lucky enough to grow up just down the road, my siblings and I spent much of our childhood in what is now my yard.  It's funny, but I  have very few memories of playing outside in my own yard as a child.  Most of them involve Grandma's house.  I smile when I think of building boats to float in the canal (and praying Grandma didn't catch us).  We loved the monkey bars, the teeter totter- all a part of the world's best swing set my grandpa had built long before I was even born.  We slept outside on the patio and watched the stars, hunted for asparagus down the lane, and played kick-the-can on summer nights. 

Then there was "the tree".  Grandma's yard was full of all sorts of trees, but this one was the best of all.  A huge old willow tree, it's roots crawled above the ground so that we could practice walking along them.  It's branches opened up wide all the way down to the roots, making it the perfect house, fort, or whatever we were playing at the time.  One of the roots was assigned as our "sidewalk", leading up to the perfect "door", and plenty of room to put a rug and a table right inside on the "floor" of our house.  Oh, and the branches.  Perfect for climbing, we spent hours shimmying up their trunks.  I even remember my sister climbing up with one hand and holding the most newly arrived kitten with her other arm.  Best of all, the willow branches hung down to create curtains enough for us to feel like it was our own private world. 

One of the best branches held the ladder. The story is that my Grandpa found it somewhere and brought it home while my mom was still a little girl. It was the perfect toy to swing on, and there's not a child who didn't love to see how high they dared climb while it swung from side to side. Another branch held our hammock, the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
If there ever was a perfect tree, this was it.

But all good things must come to an end.  Even the best things, it seems.  You see, our perfect tree was getting very old.  Branches were rotting out, and a few years back, Courtney had to cut off a few that threatened to fall onto the playhouse.  He talked of cutting the whole thing down, but mortified, the girls and I talked him out of it.  Worst of all, our favorite tree started collecting snakes.  Snakes!  When I finally convinced him that they were harboring in the tree, he put a hose into one of the holes and they slowly started coming out until he had shot 27 of them. 

We tried thinking of anything and everything to fix the snake problem, but then I was told that once snakes found a home, they would start coming from miles around to gather for the party.  My worst fear!  I explained to the girls that if the snakes move in, I'm afraid I'd have to move out.  We finally realized that the tree had lived a good life.  Last Saturday, Courtney spend the day cutting down the old tree, whilst the girls spent the day in tears.  They sobbed and told me that they had hoped their children would play in it someday.  I admitted I had hoped the same.  One asked if I thought Grandma Sally was a little bit sad, and I replied that I thought she might be. 

Dad has promised to build something really cool to take it's place.  A cool tower with a zip line, he hopes.  Oh, and a place to hang the hammock and Great-Grandpa Colin's old ladder.  We can't forget that.

As Courtney finished pulling the stump out of the ground, one of the girls tearfully asked me if I thought we'd see the old tree in heaven.  I hadn't ever thought about it, but I guessed that maybe we would.  And wouldn't that be nice? 

After all, I can't imagine Heaven would be complete without a perfect old tree.

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