Spring, Just In Case

Sushicam / Foter

Spring Break. That magical week, during which the kids are out of school…and I work, as usual. It’s good having them home. I miss the monsters when they’re at school all day. Plus it’s fun to see them relax and expand into free time, goofing off like kids are supposed to do. Makes me think I’m doing my job sorta-okay.

So, spring! The plum tree out back is in full vigorous flower. In the fall, the sycamore out front hangs onto her leaves to put the neighborhood to bed; in spring, the plum wakes up and stretches to remind me that after every winter comes rebirth. Since I’ve lived here for over a decade (longest I’ve lived anywhere) I’ve grown pretty attached to both of them. In particular, there was the Year Of Heartbreak, where one of the few things that got me through was the sycamore holding onto her leaves for long past the time every other deciduous treekin in the neighborhood was bare.

One nasty ice-drizzling evening, I went out into the front yard and hugged her slick wet trunk. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “I’m going to be fine, I promise. Go to sleep.”

The next morning, she had shed all her leaves in the night’s wind. And every time I felt like I wasn’t going to make it, I went out and stared up at her bare branches, and thought I can do this. I promised.

So I did.

The plum tree…well, he’s a little different. I remember after my son was born. I had horrible postpartum depression; I didn’t know what it was at the time, but now I do. I remember nursing him, and feeling just absolutely terrible. (Details unnecessary. Just trust me, it was awful.) It was spring, and the sun came out from behind dirty gray clouds…and I glanced out his window, at the backyard.

The plum tree was glorious that year, fleecy pink blossoms settling in an exuberant cloud over his slender fingers. I stared, after that initial glance. It was as if a bolt of something had been shot right through me–a bolt of something hot, and fierce, and utterly determined. Now, looking back, I realize it was hope. I burst into tears, cuddling the helpless little thing I’d given birth to, and tingled all over. It was like a limb waking up, pins and needles, but all over my body.

I’ve never been one to drive in roots. Growing up as a military brat, you learn that tearing them up all the time is painful, and it’s best to be a tumbleweed. I look at my kids, and they don’t remember living anywhere else. (Especially the Prince, because he hasn’t.) I think the stability’s good for them. What I never thought was that it would be good for me too, and that being around long enough to get to know a tree or two might save my life, not just once but over and over again.

Spring. Every tree in the neighborhood is waking up. Wherever you are, dear Reader, I hope you have a plum tree. Or a cherry or apple, or really any tree at all. Just in case.

  • I love nature… from inside the car or heavily medicated. I am allergic to almost everything that grows. My partner and I try very hard to attend the Cherry Tree blooming events at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens every year, even if it means I walk around like a zombie.

  • Spring has always been my favorite season because it IS the reminder of rebirth. I would never be able to live anywhere without trees.

  • My husband and I planted our flowering plum when moved into our house about 7 years ago. It has always been a bit windblown looking and hasn’t had much in the way of flowers. I used to complain to the hubby that maybe we should just take it and plant something else and he would tell me “just wait”. My husband died in October and this spring that damn tree has blossomed with amazing flowers! I don’t have the urge to hug it but it does bring me huge joy this year.

  • Growing up it was red maples and cherry trees. I knew it was fall when the maple tree blazed crimson and spring meant a snow of sweet pink petals.

    I don’t have a red maple or a cherry tree now. Instead the poplars outside my kitchen mark the year for me. They are the first to turn in the fall. They fill my little piece of the sky with red and gold flames which they then scatter across the ground turning our world into an autumn paradise with the spicy crunch of golden leaves.

    In the spring, the poplars announce spring with tiny red buds that untwist into wilted pale leaves. After a day in the sun, they have spread their leaves, filling the back yard sky with fresh green color. They are my butterflies, my reminder that change and hope come tomorrow.

  • martianmooncrab

    I planted several small trees and slow growing trees last year, and I am seeing buds on them all, they made it through the winter.

    Even the vines and the shrubberies … just reminders of the cycles…

  • I don’t have any trees close my home, here in Brazil it’s all about concrete walls and gates. We don’t have big gardens or nature near home — I don’t have at least. The weather is changing and the mornings and the evenings are becoming cold, we can see the leaves falling and the plants drying to protect themselves for the Winter. I like Autumn because I think it’s full of energy, it says to us to protect ourselves, too, for the colder times that’s coming, to gather our families and have great times with them…

  • I love your story about the sycamore tree. (I struggle with depression, and have been struggling more than usual this year, so it really resonates with me.) Thanks for sharing.

  • I have a plum tree in my yard, too. I love how trees are constantly changing every year and how they seem to connect with our feelings.