Heavy Pretty Trees

I’ve spent hours plowing the snow this weekend. I feel strong and productive when I can hurl, shove, and carry the snow across the driveway. It’s rather hard work, yet mostly calming for me. This snowfall landed hard and heavy. It knocked our power out. My boys got to experience how many of our luxuries require electricity. All. The lights. “The TV?” Yes. “The heater?” Yep.
Looking outside, my old tree loving self had conflicting emotions. It was gorgeous yet sad. The beautiful mature trees in our neighborhood looked exhausted as they held up the weight of the snow on their branches the best that they could. All the neighborhood creatures hid silently below the pure white blanket of snow. Interupting the winter silence, I could hear the tree branches crack, snap, fall and I often heard them land on the hard surfaces below.
After one large tree branch fell, my son asked me,
“Mom, should we go tell (our neighbor) that tree just fell?”
When we embrace the life that surrounds us, we all have the tendencies to snow coat our hardships or dwell on how heavy our branches feel. It’s a difficult balance to hold the beauty and acknowledge the pain. Sometimes, I hide from people because I don’t like faking how I feel. Sometimes, I do my best to show that my branches are purely beautiful not heavy. Just like yours, right? But that’s not the truth. If I can be honest and vulnerable then I put out a welcome mat that allows those around me to do the same.
I wanted to share a picture of myself feeling confident and proud of braving the storm. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Or maybe longer than that. I’ve got a pocket full of hope though. And we’ve got a shoveled driveway and my boys got the sidewalks. We’ve also got our power back on. Lights and heat and dishwashers and dryers are pretty darn nice things to have.
Hold on, heavy pretty trees, I think you’re going to be alright.

That Tree

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“Let’s go spy on our old house, Mom.”

How could I resist the sweet plea from the back seat, exiting from the mouth of one of my nearly seven year old twin boys? My older boys began recognizing the familarity of the streets surrounding our old house. We drove up slowly next to our old house. I wanted to take in the moment, notice the changes and also the things that had stayed the same. I desperately, almost out of habit, wanted to turn the wheel and pull in the driveway. Unbuckle the kids and run inside. Maybe quick, have a dance party right there by our big front window. Or listen to the sound of my boys running on the hard wood floor. Up and down the many steps. It didn’t seem like anybody was home. Perhaps we could quickly run around back through the colorful crunchy leaves everywhere.

Once you open a can of memories, there’s no turning back. The memories happily fled. Escaped. They overwhelmed my emotions. Five precious and beautiful years of memories. All sorts of memories. New memories. First time parent memories. Baby memories. Toddler memories. Hard memories. Kitchen table crying and laughing memories. Back yard memories. Happy memories. Tear filled memories. Scary memories. Messy memories. Habitual memories. I wanted to talk about them all at once, but my choked up words couldn’t begin to keep up with all of the thoughts racing, frolicking, and tip-toeing out to see our old house.

I wanted to cry as we sat there on Grandview Drive. “Spying” on our old house. One of my boys said in a tone that I recognized, a sentimental tone. A tone that made me miss our old home. And all of the memories it created and hosted for five long, yet strangely fleeting years.

“I liked our old house.”

Me too, buddy. Me too. I had to drive away. I couldn’t help but notice how big that tree has gotten. Unbelievable. How could it have grown so much in the two years since we’ve been gone? It’s leaves had not yet turned the vibrant, eye mesmerizing red-hot red. I know I would have cried if they had. It used to be one of my favorite times of the year. To stare out at the bright red leaves on the baby tree we planted. For a few days, the tree boasted, held its branches high for all to see. It looked like it was on fire. A safe, peaceful beautiful, enchanting kind of fire. We proudly possessed the most spectacular tree on the street for those few days in October.

We planted that tree on a rainy cold October evening. Seven years ago. My sister, Rachel, came over to help my husband lift it into the hole that he had dug in the front yard. We needed to get it into the ground before it got too cold. I stood there watching the scene, most likely smiling helplessly, with my hands resting on my gigantic belly. It held twin boys who needed to spend some more time growing. I’ve never known what to do with my big hands. It helped being pregnant, having a nice round resting place for them where I could conveniently feel the kicks, elbows and hiccups of my sweet boys.

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But now it’s not our house.

It’s not our yard. And not even our tree anymore. Which feels weird. A bit strange and sad. I wanted to take that tree with us when we moved. I knew it was a crazy thought. I just felt awful driving away the last time and leaving it there. Naturally, I cried so much that I needed to explain to my boys why I was sobbing. So hard. I needed to turn the windshield wipers on. For my tears.

Now we’re at a new house. With new trees. A house that holds memories for other families. And a house with trees that will forever remind me of my monkey armed, tree climbing, outdoor loving boys. Hanging upside down, waving at me or pretending to be Spider-Man. Yesterday, I read a stack of books to my youngest up in our tree fort. We layed on a sleeping bag and ate cheese and crackers. We escaped momentarily from the hustle and bustle of a Monday house full of messes. Messes that could wait.

Because there will be a day when my boys will have adventures in their tree fort without me. Or a day when we may not live at this house anymore. There will always be messes and dirty dishes, but there may not always be a day for hanging out in a tree making memories. Drive-by forever kind of memories.

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