A Tree Grows in Warwick, by Carole Howard

Next week is Arbor Day. It doesn’t get as much commercial attention as, say, Valentine’s Day or Groundhog Day or Mother’s Day.  But it’s very special to me, and here’s why:

Back on Arbor Day 1980, when my daughter was in first grade, she brought one of those itty-bitty evergreen shoots home from school.  It was a scrawny little stick with some pine needles, maybe 6 inches tall, in one of those frozen orange juice containers, Minute Maid, I think.  We’d only recently moved from the big city to the country and, I’ll admit, it was thrilling.  And adorable.  (“Oh how cute.  She got a ‘tree’ to bring home from school.”)

With appropriate ceremony, we waited for a warm and sunny day.  We dug a hole and stuck it in the ground.  It didn’t take long, certainly not long enough for the glee we were feeling and our sense of the significance of the moment.  Maybe we watered it after that, but I honestly can’t remember doing even that.  Mostly we forgot about it, except for an occasional, “Honey, remember when….?”

IMG_4033Here it is now, complete with the former first grade planter herself (and her mom, aka moi).  Her daughter is now about the age she was when she brought home the seedling. Yikes.

Now, of course, I wish I’d planted 50 of them.  It was so easy.  It’s so beautiful.  No muss, no fuss……. and now a tree where nothing stood before.

Actually, many of our plantings evoke that same “Remember when….”  There’s the magnolia in front that I blogged about two years ago, or  the apple tree planted in memory of my brother, or the trees — a maple and a pin oak — under which my- daughter-the-evergreen-planter got married.  And on and on.

weddingHave you ever heard the Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”

So … what are you waiting for?



*    *    *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio,  in which Emily wanted more out of life than to be a good little Embassy wife in West Africa. She was expecting music, though, not murder.


Filed under memory, writing

11 responses to “A Tree Grows in Warwick, by Carole Howard

  1. Oops, I meant to post the blog which was a love letter to my magnolia. Here it is, if you’re interested:

  2. I read both stories, Carole and they warmed my heart! Such happy memories you have and i thank you for sharing them! Wonderful!

  3. jonna ellis holston

    When I left the home I raised my family in, I planted a redbud tree. I hope it’s still there 36 years from now! Thank you for this charming story, Carole.

  4. Laura Breitman

    I look forward to spring each year, almost as much as I look forward to your next story!

  5. I’m glad you only planted one. In its isolated grandeur it is a monument to one very special Arbor Day, a long time ago.

  6. I’d not heard that proverb but I like it! I like your trees too.

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