Monday, August 4, 2008


We moved into the house we are presently living in when Adam was 3 years old. He's 33 now, so that is 30 years... 30 years living in a house sandwiched between a front yard and a back yard. Our yard...our grass and our tree.... bushes planted next to the house, iris bulbs from Granny Merritt that bloom every year under my bedroom window.

Our home was 2 years old when we bought it from an elderly couple. He had recently cut down every tree in the front yard and all but 1 in the back. A big 'ole sweet gum tree. As our boys grew and made friends, the front yard became THE place to be...not just for my 3, but for all the boys in the neighborhood! It was big and empty and perfect for playing football...the game of choice for every little boy around. As soon as everyone got off the bus and checked in at was on to the Owens' for the game of the day. Noisy? Oh yes! But always fun! So any time we talked about planting trees in the front yard, the boys would always beg us not to. In the long run, it was much more important to us that our boys were home where there was always an adult around, than to have a nicely landscaped front yard. I was teaching piano lessons at home in the afternoons, so the kids would play, and I would teach and all was well.***Until the neighbors next door got a border collie who thought she was supposed to herd the children instead of sheep, and barked her fool head off trying to keep them in a nice little group. Poor Barbie...she never did get 'em all rounded up!***

And the back...plenty of action here. Here was our 1 tree.
A beautiful tree, until the season of sweet gum balls. Man! do they ever hurt when you step on them! Oh, but the tree! Once we thought it was dead due to lightening, but we cut the top off and it came back...and grew and grew...and grew.
Our tree once housed a magnificent tree house, complete with ladder and tarp roof. It was big enough for 2 boys or 3 if Ian was around! Its strong limbs have held swings for boys to fly in and Moms and Dads to dream in. It has also suffered indignities. Nails pounded into its trunk...ropes choking its branches...and I once found the boys seeing who could make the highest mark on its proud trunk. I won't spell it out for you, but they each had a version of the 'tool'...and it involved a liquid. That should be all the clues you need.
Through the years, we've enclosed the garage, added 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, built a carport, added a sunroom, built another garage...then a studio and lastly an upper and lower deck. This, then became the place for cook-outs and birthday parties, a place to work on school campaigns and finally, graduation parties. And the faithful tree has cooperated by growing taller and broader and providing us with wonderful, cooling shade.
It holds beautiful tuned wind chimes and encourages the hostas to grow between its roots. It forms a shelter over the deck so this 'wanna be' gardener can experiment with container masterpieces.
It provides a lovely canopy to read under in the summer, its leaves carpet the ground with color in the fall, its branches show off their mighty architecture in the winter,
and in the spring it wreaks havoc on my allergies as it buds out once again.

But, now there are no little boys to dig in the dirt under its strong arms, no little knees getting scraped trying to climb high enough to touch the sky. No friends to have a picnic with on the grass, or pitch a tent to bravely spend the night 'in the wild'.

Now the master of the yard is Scooter, the Wonder Dog. The backyard has become his domain. He is in charge of handling unwanted intruders. He does most of the planting, but it's bones instead of seed. He makes a sweep of the yard several times a day. He terrorizes those vicious squirrels that dare to live and play in his tree. He delights in chasing the little green lizards...occasionally managing to relieve then from part of their tail. He gives the frogs a wide berth, though. He once got into a heated discussion with one...Scooter was hunkered down, inching closer...just about to teach that frog a lesson . However, he made a serious miscalculation as to the distance a frog should be kept away from the eyes of a dog. Yep, the frog had a secret weapon...and shot something into Scooter's eyes that obviously was very unpleasant. His bravery towards frogs was gone instantly...along with a little dignity, I imagine. So, if we get invaded by an army of angry frogs...we're on our own !
He sniffs every corner of the yard...keeping abreast of who ever dares to come near his fence. He loves to lie on the deck and soak up the sun...watching the sky and feeling the breeze. The Bible says, "Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord." Sometimes the look on his face and his countenance make me think that this is just what he is doing.

He is old now...14 years. But, make no mistake...he is in total control of the yard...he is the KING.

And, so, if you were to drive by my house, you would think it looks like an ordinary, nothing special yard. Just like so many more in this middle class neighborhood. You would never know of the beautiful memories floating through the air...the distant sound of football being played in the front yard; the sweet memories recalled when the wind chimes sound their music. You wouldn't see that little boy wrestle the bloom off of that iris the second it bloomed and bring it to me in a grimy hand. You would never hear our tree whispering its stories. You would never hear it calling for its little boys to come once again and play. But, this Mom hears it...and remembers.


Kristen said...

Now THAT is a beautiful tree! What sweet, precious memories!

Dianne said...

I'll bet your having lots of those memories since you're going to be moving, even though that's exciting. It's great that you have had such a fabulous place to call 'home.'

Musicaljean said...

Ahhh, Tonja, you're starting to feel the moving pangs, aren't you? Do you know who will be buying this house?

When we sold our house three years ago, it was to one of my coworkers, so we have been back to see the house numerous times.

The house that we owned when our children were little was up for sale last year. I honestly considered going to the open house, just so I could get a chance to see it again! They did have pictures of the rooms online, so that was fun to look at.

Deedra said...

Okay, that was just beautiful! I just put my babies to bed after visiting with my dad. Watching him playing with them in the same yard he played with us all those years ago.....bring on the Kleenex! :)

Lynne said...

That was a beautiful post. Your house holds a lot of memories, but you'll be taking them with you and starting new ones.

It's a shame you can't take that tree with you.

andi said...

A wonderful post! Beautiful...absolutely beautiful!
The memories of those sweet babes reminds me to savor each day! I'll hop on your room if you'll do my plans. :) I CAN'T wait to see you! Luke a.k.a. Wuke told me to drive by Mrs. Owens house yesterday afternoon. HE wanted to check on it and was concerned where you were living since it wasn't done yet. ;) Sweet little guys. They can't wait to see you! They have been praying for you~
You never know when the room fairy will fly by!

Paula (SweetPea) said...

That indeed looks like a good climbing tree.

Aren't you building a new house?

Robin said...

How precious are the times we share with our loved ones. Your memories will always be with you, no matter where you live. I can't wait to hear the tales of the upcoming ones in the NEW house. You are a gifted writer and I love reading everything you write.

He Knows My Name said...

tonja, that was so beautiful to read. i felt i was there watching your boys play on that front lawn, the breeze of that ol' tree and see that dog chase the squirrels. i too can see a picture or see a toy still in the basement and quickly go back and most times with longing in my heart to be there again. thanks for sharing such wonderful memories. janel

marychristina said...

Beautiful post!

nancygrayce said...

It is a beautiful tree, but raking those leaves is another story! My grandmother had one in her yard. We have two huge oaks on either side of our house. Beautiful until they start to drop their the pool.

Earthmommy said...

What a sweet, enjoyable post. This brought me back to when I was a kid in the home I was raised in until age 10. I was queen of my backyard, running over hills and climbing trees.

justabeachkat said...

Oh Tonja

What a beautifully written post. It touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye. So many special memories...but don't worry, they live in your heart.