(Originally written: June 15, 2020)

The home that we bought is of a slightly above average size. One master bedroom and two standard bedrooms all accompanied by three and a half bathrooms. The term made me chuckle though I know what a half-bathroom meant. Half-bathroom. I had always lived in one apartment or another, from when I was a child to now when my wife and I could afford a mortgage. The bathrooms in those apartments were always full bathrooms. Though if I compared them to the bathrooms in my new home, they’d be considered half-bathrooms because of their size (not due to functionality).

Our living room has good lighting throughout the day as the windows are south facing. Perfect for me. I didn’t like having the sun in my face when looking out at places. I have no problems with the sun. I have a healthy respect for it. But the sun can get a little annoying at times. Especially when you’re driving to work and you’re tired and it’s in your eyes. And then when you’re returning home from work and you’re tired and there’s the sun again. Asserting itself on your weary eyes. The sun can’t assert itself on my living room. It’ll just be a welcome guest.

My south facing living room looks out into a large yard. The grass is healthy in most spots except one where the sprinklers aren’t functioning. The realtor told us the type of grass we have but I don’t remember it. It’s the kind that grows thick and long and feels really nice between your toes. The kind where you can lie down without a pillow or a blanket and you’d feel just fine. The kind your dog would love to use as a quarter-bathroom (no sink, mirror, or tub).

The wooden fence that we have is tall but I can still see the top half of the house that our south facing living room looks at. That house looks larger than ours and that makes me chuckle. Much more work to maintain. I also look over, sometimes, to our Western neighbors. Their house is about the same size as ours and their yard is probably the same as well (with a key difference I’ll get to in a second). From my conversations with the owners I’ve understood they also enjoy getting the benefits of the sun without the price. Nice folks.

We don’t have Eastern neighbors.

I further learned how nice our Western neighbors were when they decided to put a pool in their backyard. A pool that would find it hard to exist due to the small tree that grew in the middle of their yard. The woman of that household informed the woman of my household (I personally call her my wife but you can call her what you want as long as it’s polite) of their arboreal troubles and how they were going to get the tree removed. When my wife told me about that, it didn’t sit right with me. If the tree got removed, she’d likely get chopped up to bits and be used for things. I understand that’s the way of the world right now but still. It didn’t feel right. So I asked them if they’d be okay with splitting the cost of removing the tree and having her planted in my backyard. They were extremely open to this idea since they were feeling guilty about removing the tree in the first place.

My wife is better at negotiations so she took care of the logistics and I just signed off on the check when she put it in front of me. When the tree guys planted our adopted tree they told us what kind she was. I nodded along and remembered it for a full two days before forgetting it. I think my wife knows but it doesn’t come up. You don’t have to know something’s name to enjoy it. I especially enjoyed the new kind of light that my south facing living room got. It felt fresh. Like our new tree was sharing her nutrients with the light before it graced our living room. 

We were careful with watering the tree’s roots the first few weeks (I remembered those instructions since I wrote them down). But after those few weeks of work my wife and I were able to enjoy the tree. If we were giving her company in the morning, we’d sit on her Western side. Eastern side if we were out in the evening. The shade was nice and welcoming whatever side we sat on and that made us love the tree and not just enjoy her. The bark on the tree was rough and hard and that was initially difficult to get used to but we did. If we were standing, the branches grew not far above our heads but that changed over the years. Our tree grew and grew, stretching her leafy branches out into the sky. Our neighbor’s pool did not grow. 

She would drop a lot of leaves in the Fall. Leaves that I went through the trouble of gathering and turning into mulch for the garden my wife had. It’s a chore I enjoyed because of the time I could spend with our tree. She’d listen to the ideas I had and wouldn’t say much except for the occasional rustle of her branches. Depending on the conversation, I’d take it as her agreeing or gently disagreeing with me. When our kids got older I got them to do that chore since I wanted them to spend some time with the tree. They grumbled at first, as they did with every chore they were given. Soon enough, they began doing it with the same joy I did it with and that made me glad. And they found that joy in different ways. My son wouldn’t talk to the tree but he would look at her now and then and smile. I think he just liked looking at her. My daughter wouldn’t talk either but she did sing. I don’t care what you say. Our tree’s branches were more full with leaves the spring after my daughter first sang to her. Because of that, we all sang to our tree more often. From the rustle of her branches we know she likes my daughter’s singing the most. Our feelings aren’t hurt. 

Many naps were had under her. Naps that mainly resulted from people bringing books out to her shade with the intent of exploring a new world and then falling for the gentle lullaby her shade provided. The dreams that were had under her were always better than any world a story could give. They were warm and loving and never took a turn for the worse. Unlike most stories, the dreams our tree gave us did not seek to entertain. They only came, of their own accord, to comfort. A sanctuary. Nothing less, nothing more. Another way for our tree to say that she loved us as much as we loved her. 

I’m sure my son had his first kiss under the tree, just like my daughter. Neither will confirm it as fact and I don’t mind at all. I have kissed my wife many times under our tree and we never told our kids. In fact, there are many things that we have all done in our tree’s shade or told our tree that we never shared with each other. That’s okay. There are many things that you don’t have to tell your family  but you can tell your tree. 

My favorite memory with our tree is my daughter’s wedding. She couldn’t dream of having her wedding anywhere else and my wife and I just agreed when she asked. We worried about crowding too many people in the yard but our daughter quickly told us there wouldn’t be many people. Just close friends and family. The amount you’d invite to a large summer barbecue. With that, we decided to have our daughter’s wedding that summer since there was significantly less planning needed. We set up a few rows of white, wooden lawn chairs in two different sections (bride-side and bride-side). Instead of a carpet running in between to lead up to the altar, our son set up a pathway of bright red rose petals bordered by white lilies. Between the bordering lilies he placed lights to brighten the path since the wedding would be taking place in the evening when it’d be much cooler. My daughter didn’t want to be sweating on her big day.

As for the altar, our tree was draped in white lights and that’s it. She looked beautiful that night, somehow managing to outshine the full moon that was slowly rising behind us. While my daughter and my new daughter exchanged vows and expressed their eternal love for each other, I sat in the front row with the biggest smile I’ve ever worn. That tree never bore fruit but she had filled us day in and day out with a love only nature is capable of. So with her wedding happening under our tree there’s no way my daughter’s life could go wrong. There’s just no way.

I could keep telling you about our tree. I’ve lived quite the life with her after all. But I don’t want to keep you from going out and cherishing whatever magic your life has been blessed with. Is it a book whose spine you’ve worn through and through from a hundred different re-reads? Maybe a creek that’s a short walk away from your house that you can dip your toes in and cool away a day’s worth of stress? Well whatever that magic is, go on back to it. Those of us that have been lucky enough to find a home like that should squeeze out every second we can in its company.

Good day, friend. I’m going to go have a nap under our tree.