Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Tree

I was on my way to my Dad's house yesterday afternoon, the top down the wind blowing my hair all over creation (and me not caring) when I got behind a slow moving log truck ,filled with freshly cut pine trees.  The aroma that drifted back to me was overwhelming.  It was my childhood unraveling like ribbons and wrapping themselves around my heart. I could see us, the cousins, pinching off little balls of amber and chewing them like gum. The amber colored blood of the pine would have been hardened in a century or more to make fine jewelry, but for then, it was a tasty treat...yes, I did say tasty. It was as though we were living in a primeval forest and scrounging for sustenance at any source.  You will forgive us, we were children.  We also chewed Indian Pepper and drank from Honeysuckle flowers. 

But the memory that was so strong that it brought tears to my eyes was of Daddy Dwight's tree.  It was a very tall long leaf pine that stood at the crest of a hill above Mammy and Daddy Dwight's big old farmhouse.  You traveled up a steeply graded dirt road went past the gas pumps on the left that serviced the farm equipment, past the big old barn on the right, and around the curve and there he stood.  Too tall and straight to climb or to see the top without craning your neck painfully. Now, the pines surrounded us on three sides but this one old tree stood sentinel all on his on. He stood near the highway (145) and could be seen for miles.  This pine tree was not for cutting, it was for viewing.    And we could view him from five miles away atop a fast dropping highway hill as we traveled to our grandparents from some far away state we lived in.  Every summer of our young lives was spent with them, and we eagerly watched for the first sighting of his lofty branches which signaled that our arrival would be soon.

That tree stood for so long that we thought he was indestructible.  And that Daddy Dwight, though bed ridden when I was in my mid twenties, was destined to be with us forever.  I will never forget that he held my first born son in his arms as lovingly as that big old tree of his held the birds nests in his gnarly boughs.  That when my boys were two and three, although he couldn't sit up anymore, he motioned for them to come to him and stroked their little heads with love shining in his eyes amidst the tears. 
Daddy Dwight passed away a year or so later.  On the night he died,the big old Pine breathed his last and fell across the dirt road adjacent to the highway, humbled and brought low.  After Daddy Dwight's funeral, someone had the foresight to cut slices from the big old tree, and mark them as Daddy Dwight's tree and each grandchild received one in memory of both Daddy Dwight and his tree.

So there I was, traveling down Angelus Road and this load of pines had me weepy. It was like receiving a hug from my grandfather, those memories evoked by a log truck traveling slowly through the forest of the Sand Hills.

17 comments:

Maggie May said...

Amazing that the tree fell on the very night of Daddy Dwight's death. Bet that kind of thing doesn't happen very often.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Sally said...

Now I have tears too. You write so beautifully and straight from the heart.

I just love you!
xoxo

Vee said...

You are a master story teller. Your tender memories are beautiful.

Jinksy said...

The smell of pines has a magic all its own...
And that's great photo at the end of your post - did you take it yourself?

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/From Harvest To Table said...

What an amazing coincidence that the tree fell that same night he passed!

P.S. I drank from honeysuckle too.

Carver said...

You are a wonderful story teller. Such strong good memories. Scents can bring back poignant memories for me too.

Sandy Carlson said...

I agree with Carver; you are a fabulous storyteller. It's amazing what these fragrances can do, where they can take us. Thanks for sharing this story of your childhood.

Akelamalu said...

Aromas can invoke such overwhelming memories sometimes. x

Lee said...

That took me back to my childhood Sandi! My grandparents had this bush in their back yard that bore red flowers that when plucked could be sucked on for a sweet treat. This has been a wonderfully loving memory you posted. Reminded me of the day my beloved grandmother held my sister's first born in her arms. Thank you!
Hugs!
Lee

Hilary said...

Scent sure is a powerful memory-evoker. And you sure do tell a fine story. What a beautiful gesture that tree made.. to fall when Daddy Dwight did. Wonderful connection they had. And I love that you all have slices of its core. Now that's an amazing gift.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

This was a beautiful post. I am sure Daddy Dwight was smiling as the scent of the pines engulfed you. He was saying Hello.

Isn't it amazing how scent can transport us through time.
Your recollections brought to mind one morning when the neighbor kids and I gathered a little red wagon full of honeysuckle. We were all sipping the honeysuckle nectar. I hadn't thought about that in years.

Thank you for such a memory-jogging post.

sandyland said...

amazing how those memories fly in and bite us your tomatoes below are so lovely taste good I bet. I long for a fresh in hand tomato.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

I, too, drank from the honeysuckle - but never knew about the pine tree's balls of amber, even though I grew up in NC! You are such an amazing encourager, and you know what I mean.

Brian Miller said...

what a coincidence eh on that tree...you had me early with drinking honeysuckle...i have good memories of that...and trees...and those places...such strong places of memory....

Marianne said...

It was a hug from your grandfather. Lovely post

TexWisGirl said...

oh, so sweet...

Cloudia said...

We are a calico family too :-)