Trees have families occasionally. Oh, the ones out there along the highways may not all have families, but some trees do. The old elm out front on this street definitely has its family. It grew up in the Dickerson fence from some dirt that came up from the Bonita farmland. Fang’s dad didn’t pull it out of the fence line when it was little, and it grew to be bodacious before the family even grew up and the kids were grown. By the time we got married, it towered over the yard and the front end of the house like a many-armed sentinel. It sucked up all the moisture from the front flower beds and dropped bushels of leaves all over the roof and yard, but it also provided shade and a refuge for birds.
By the time our children were old enough to climb trees, the tree was too tall to be safe climbing territory. A few swings hung from the lower limbs for a few years, but it was safe from the tree house mania which warped a few other trees around the yard.
Struck by lightning several years ago, one of the stranger characteristics seems to be a whiter streak of wood down one side of the old elm. And the worrywart of the family had some of the lower branches which hung over the roof removed about the time the lightning struck. The result of storms, worrywarts, and the electric company mandatory trimming has changed the overall shape of the old elm, but not its character.
This afternoon a certain unnamed grandson walked his way up to the very wide crotch of the tree. He used a webbed tie down as a rope and threw its hook across the crotch to snag a younger branch. When I finally saw where he was and where his little sister was demanding to go as well, I had the proverbial hissy fit and insisted that he come down immediately. Unfortunately, the child is genetically aligned with his grandmother’s inability to go back the same way he goes forward. My mother taught me to get down from wherever I had decided to climb by refusing to help me get down. A grandmother does NOT refuse to get a grandson down, so I hauled out a ladder and then made him help me put it away after he was down.
This old elm has its family, but I plan to keep it a nice arm’s-length relationship. No climbing—only shading and shedding. They can rake up piles of leaves for jumping in, through, or among, but the limbs need to remain childless. Some family members serve best who only stand and shade.