There was a sycamore outside in my front yard. My grandpa planted it as a sapling, transplanted from the creek bottom. It seemed big when I was young. It was the perfect climbing tree. I could jump up and grab the lowest branch, swing my leg over and pull myself onto that first branch. The rest of the branches seemed perfectly positioned for me to reach and step on one branch after another. Sometimes I’d rest on a lower branch and read. Other times I’d challenge myself to see how high I could climb before deciding it was “high enough.”
I’ll climb out of my bedroom window on warm summer nights and sit on the porch roof to look at the stars, and the tree was always in my view. The night of my high school graduation, I took photos with friends in front of it. I stopped climbing its branches, then realized one day that it had continued to grow and I could no longer reach the bottom-most limbs.
I wouldn’t climb its branches again, but it still feels like “my tree.” Sometimes I help my mom pick up the many twigs it drops during storms. Annoying sticks that have to be hauled to the ditch. But despite what it drops into the yard, its presence is strong and constant. It’s part of the yard and part of my childhood. It towers above the house.
And it came from a transplanted sapling. It has grown year after year for decades.
Its sheer size prompted my mom to have it trimmed.
It was sort of sad to see it trimmed. But it needed to be pruned. It might look odd for a couple years, but it will be healthier. It is less likely to topple or splinter in high winds. There’s less danger to the house, and it will drop less twigs into the yard for a while.
The day it was trimmed, I noticed some logs stacked at the base of the tree. They were pretty with their white bark. I decided to take a piece home as a reminder.
A reminder that we all need to be pruned in order to stay healthy.
A reminder that we might feel and look a bit awkward through the pruning process.
A reminder that we serve a variety of purposes throughout our lives.
A reminder that we are always changing, even if the changes seem imperceptible to us.
A reminder that we all need to be rescued and transplanted in order to grow strong.
A reminder that we rely on each other. Growth is a process. Those who enjoy the growth may not have done the planting. We all need to plant and cultivate, not for ourselves but for others.
My climbing tree isn’t my tree at all. It stands as a reminder of family, fun, and faith.