The Story of a Tree
A connection to the past and bridge to the future
Dwarfed by the giant 80-year-old elm, a young Japanese maple thrives
Image by Micki Bare
Years ago, when I was a single mom living in a rental house with my three boys, I took the kids house shopping. I'd saved some money and qualified for a first-time home buyers loan. We met with a realtor and toured a few homes. One sat across the street from a park and playground. But it did not have much of a yard. One sat high on a hill, but needed lots of work. As a career-driven single mom of boys who played sports, I did not have the time, nor the expertise to fix up a fixer-upper. One was across from an elementary school. The school was not the one my boys attended and the house only had two bedrooms.
The next week, I picked up a real estate booklet. I found a beautiful, brick one-and-a-half story in the boys' school district. After baseball practice, we decided to drive by the house. It was located in an adorable neighborhood. And while the house looked perfect, it had a giant red and white SOLD sign stuck in the lawn near the road. We all loved the location, so we drove around looking for other for-sale signs.
We found one at the end of a cul-de-sac. It was a cute ranch with a bright red Japanese maple just outside the picture window between the front porch and the driveway. I was not sold on the ranch style, but the maple was hard to resist. On our way out of the cul-de-sac, I had to stop the car and let the boys say hello to three friends. Cute neighborhood, lots of other boys from school, quiet cul-de-sac, Japanese maple. Four weeks later, we moved our meager belongings into our new home.
Fast-forward a decade. Rather than grow out of our pretty little home, we added on. Our maple had grown and so had the boys. And while we loved it there — it's where Hubby, the boys and I became a family — circumstances changed. My mom moved in after my father passed away. We had to find a bigger house close to downtown. It was time to go. But what would become of our Japanese maple? We couldn't bring it with us.
What we did do was dig up a sapling from beneath the tree. We planted it in a pot and brought it to our new home. We'd tried to pot saplings from our maple in the past with no success. This time, if nothing else, I was going to have a piece of my old tree in a pot on my porch, even if it was doomed to wither and die. When that happened, I could make a little fairy garden to commemorate my old Japanese maple.
But it didn't die. After a year sitting on our porch in a plastic pot, it began to bud. When I saw signs of life, I immediately picked out a place in our yard where Hubby could plant it. For two years, we watered, fertilized and mulched an orange flag on our front lawn. The flag kept Hubby and the boys from mowing the little sapling that looked like a small stick with two leaves.
With a little help from Mother Nature, our young Japanese maple is thriving today. On days like Earth Day, I'm grateful for the miracle of nature that allowed us to bring a little bit of our old home with us. And I'm thankful for the opportunity to watch this young tree grow along with our family. Someday, it will shade my future grandchildren. And I will tell them the story of its mother, and how she stole our hearts and helped make our first house a home. Then I will describe how her baby, this gorgeous tree, did the same, helping us adjust to our new house and make it our own.