When I was ten, my father planted a Purple Leaf Plum twig in our backyard on Crockett Street. The roots fit in a coffee can. This plum sprig and I were the same height.
At least once a year, for five years, he took a photo of me standing next to the tree. The tree grew much more rapidly than I did. In some photos the tree was leafless, like an upside down rake, in others, the tension in its burgundy leaves apparent, and in at least one, the tree was in full pinkish-white bloom, the only beauty in our backyard.
Next to it, I looked unkempt, my bangs far too long, my hair shiny with oil, and raggedy clothes picked out of my costume trunk. Underneath these superficialities, the face was too thin which made the eyes and nose and mouth look overlarge and vulnerable–the face of a young teen trying to decide in which direction to run.
The plum tree stood in the center of our backyard because it needed full sunlight. After a heavy rainstorm, the tree’s branches hung to the ground in despair from the beating. I lifted the branches up off the wet grass. Next day the branches were directed skyward again.
We moved away from Crockett Street the summer before I entered tenth grade. Since it was in the backyard, I never saw the tree again. It now belonged to someone else. They say plum trees only live a generation or so, but sometimes a new trunk grows up next to the original and takes over, keeps on living. I like to think that’s what happened with our plum tree.
I don’t have the photos of me standing by the tree–only the memory and this one picture of my mother sitting in a lawn chair in front of the tree.
17 responses to “Twig”
What a great story.. There was a camellia bush that grew outside my bedroom window I loved to sit behind. I recently went on Google maps, found my old house and lo & behold that bush is still there..maybe your plum tree is too 🙂
What a great idea to check out Google maps! Thank you for your camellia bush memory. Amazing the connections we have to specific trees and plants.
We had one of those on the side of our house. It died while we lived there and my mom replaced it with an evergreen. What a nice memory to resurrect.
Maybe we tend to think of the houses and apartments we’ve lived in, but the trees are important parts of our memories, too :).
i love the upside-down rake, a young girl deciding which way to run. stunning!
Sarah, that means a lot to me that you felt that way about the piece. Thank you so much for reading.
I like this. We have a Colorado Blue Spruce, a birthday present for my husband on his 30th birthday… he is now 63. I have pictures of my son jumping over it shortly after we planted it. Graduation pictures, prom pictures, kids in baby carriers… it is now taller than our 2 story house.
Ruth, what great pix you have of a wonderful symbol of your family!
This is so sweet. I have special memories of different houses we lived in growing up. This post brought up some of those. Thank you!
Is it Jill? It sounds like you might have lived in a lot of houses. We lived in four houses before I hit high school (the 5th house).
It is Jill. 4 houses that I remember before I was in Middle School. Each one unique and different, but home. Home is where your family is.
Love it. I am sure your plum tree carries on as strong as your memory of it. 🙂
Janice, I hope so!!
I enjoyed your writings about the plum tree. It was lot like a wall in a house where parents mark the yearly height progress of their children, but then if the house is sold, the history is gone, The plum tree was plucky…like you….lifting its arms to the sun after a storm. Re: the photo of your mom, you look so much like her!
All the best,
Yes, exactly like people mark the wall or a door! Thanks re my mom ;).
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