Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Echo in the Elms

I recently posted a picture of my grandmother's tulip tree on Face book, entitled "this is what spring is all about".  The cousins all recognized it immediately using phrases like "I'd know that tree anywhere".  And well they should.  My grandmother loved trees.   She taught us all a love for the growing things in our world.  While the tulip tree brings back strong memories, its what I don't have a picture of that brings back more.  The only picture of the grove of elms that once stood behind the big old farmhouse are in my mind.  Their leaves formed a canopy over the simple dirt floor of our playground.  In the heat of summer it was like being in a cool glade, which is actually was.  The cousins, Becky, Patsy ,Cathy, Kay, Crystal and  and I often played a rousing game of "coming to see" beneath those  old branches.  We would take a limb and mark off  rooms and use rocks and old pieces of wood from the woodpile and make our furniture.  Broken dishes destined for the trash would be lovingly rescued and taken to the elms for our play things.  Any old pot that we came across was used as kitchen ware.  We would draw designs in the dirt to form our rugs and the stage was set.  Gathering our children (our doll babies) we would play at neighbors, visiting each other and discussing world events as seen through the eyes of children.
The 1/2 acre elm grove and the cedar tree were delights of my childhood.  The grove itself was a delight of my grandmother's.  We were admonished not to tear the leaves from the tender branches while making "vegetable soup" for our company visits when the game was on.  She told us they needed their leaves like we  need our skin.  I seem to remember the day that Daddy Dwight told her that the elms were all sick, they had something called Dutch Elm Disease.  I don't think I  had ever seen  her like that.  She had the look of someone about to take a dose of nasty tasting medicine.   Later that fall I wasn't there when they took the axes to our elms.  When the following summer came, it was to a bare place where not even  ragged stumps punctuated the ground where we had once played.  The cedar tree stood silent sentinel over our childhood, looking lonely yet strong.  But if I were to go back there and stand where once the gentle elms gathered us into play...my cousins sisters friends...I  believe I  would hear our laughter and feel the cool of the glade echoing down through the years.

22 comments:

the fly in the web said...

What a wonderful post! You allow me to see those trees..those children...

Sally said...

Yes, I can see it all; such wonderful memories, Sandi! It's amazing the difference from then to now; children using their own minds to create fun instead of holding an electronic game in their hand or texting friends/cousins. LOL

Have a blessed day.

HUGS!

Brian Miller said...

smiles...i remember the tall trees that used to line the drive to my grandmothers house...spent many a sunday afternoon climbing them...

Jeni said...

Beautiful memories of childhood, Sandi. I get the same "vibes" frequently as I walk through my old house here and in my mind, I can hear the various voices of those family members who lived here as well as aunts/uncle/cousins who visited often.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Sweet memories. My grandmother had really old furniture (I wonder what became of it now). My cousins and my sister and I would play endless games on one dresser that looked like an elegant throne to us. One of us would be the queen ruling the kingdom and tell the others what to do.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

well girl...you brought a tear to my eye. LOL...I remember lots of "playing house", "store", and "school". I was always the Mother, the teacher or the store owner. What does that tell ya? :)

I totally understand your Grandmother's feelings about cutting down the trees. We had to remove our great magnolia in the front yard recently and I cried. In fact, I couldn't even be there for the event. Silly.. to cry but I felt like I was losing a great ol' friend. xoxo Have a wonderful week Sandi.

Vee said...

Oh I'm sure that you would... the echo of childhood across the years...

My kids live on Elm Street that doesn't have an Elm on it. Sad what happened to such a beloved and beautiful tree. I understand that there is a new one resistant to Dutch Elm Disease.

Shrinky said...

Oh Sandi, how sad they had to go - I remember that Dutch Elm Disease swept the UK, too, and thousands of trees had to be destroyed, I didn't know it spread to America, too. There were countless segments on the news about it at the time.

You have such a precious way of laying down these treasures from your past, you are truly a natural, gifted writer, dear lady, and always draw us in as silent witnesses, standing just off centre, to watch the scenes vividly play out in all their glorious technicolor!

Merisi said...

Trees are memories reaching for the sky.
Lovely memories, yours.
Thank you for sharing them!
Happy spring,
Merisi

Maggie May said...

There were 3 poplar trees...... tall & erect in the garden of my favourite childhood home.
When I was taken there years late, it was a shock to find that not only did everything look smaller, but the poplar trees had gone! Sometimes a mistake to go back.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Cheryl said...

What sweet memories...and a lovely telling of those memories! I can imagine it myself as I read your words.
~ Cheryl

Tammy@Beatrice Banks said...

Moving post! Sounds like your grandmother was a wonderful woman. I know you cherish the memories.

Finding Pam said...

Sandi, this was such a sweet post about your childhood memories. Our mom was a only child and thus we had no cousins.

Thank you for sharing such a lovely story with us today.

Candy said...

Thanks for the sweet visit into my crazy world. Wish I was sitting under the elm tree enjoying the cool of the glade and wishing all my friends could come have some crazy fun at Round Top. COME ON!
Blessings ;-)

Lee said...

Oh Sandi, I loved this post! It brings back so many memories. My sister and I played under a Mulberry bush and our game doesn't come to mind as complicated as yours. I guess our folks didn't do a lot of visiting or world issue discussing in front of us. But we still had all the elements of a family and the usual responsibilities. :-) Thank you so much for sharing. I didn't even know that tulips could become trees.
Much love,
Lee

Angela said...

Good memories! I think you would like the children's book Roxaboxen. Even though it is set in the Arizona desert, the children play a game very similar to yours.

Suldog said...

Ah, I know exactly what you mean. I wish I had photos of my weeping willow, of the lilac bushes I used to hide in during hide-and-seek, of the forsythia that bloomed near My Grandma's (what a great aroma!)...

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Flea Market Makeovers said...

Lovely post Sandi! I could just see all of you playing house under those trees. How sad that they got the disease....
Hugs,
Penny

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Beautifully written Sandi! Your post brought back the memory of the giant orange tree in the back of my grandparents house...of course going back many years later, the tree looked so tiny. We actually have tulip trees in our neighborhood and they are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this♥

cheshire wife said...

It is very sad when trees have to be cut down but as they were diseased it was necessary. That does not make it any easier. Our previous house had an unusual silver birch tree in the front garden. The first thing that the new owners did was to cut it down. We have not been back to look. I can'timagine what it looks like.

busana muslim said...

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Sandy Kessler said...

these grand trees fill our soul like nothing else. I could sit and look at dogwoods pink and white, redbuds, etc for hours make that days and they live so prominently in our minds