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.