Memory

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it?

Thursday night, I had a dream that the house I spent my childhood in was for sale, and my family was moving back to it. It made me nostalgic, so when I woke up, I looked it up on Google, you know, to see how the place is doing.

I was absolutely unnerved coming across the picture above, because that tree alongside the house? I don’t remember it being there. I mean, obviously, that tree has been there a long time. My two younger siblings remember it clearly.  I should remember it, too, but I don’t.

And I remember the trees – we played among them from the time I was eight until we moved to Texas when I was fifteen.

I remember the pine trees that lined the property line on either side of the driveway. Seth, Kathryn, and I would play in the treeline on the right side during the summer, creating makeshift teepees out of fallen branches, until one fell on Kathryn and gashed open her forehead, and we were prohibiting from erecting those treacherous structures ever again. We loved the treeline on the left more, anyway, because that was where the tree fort was, though we had to wait for winter to play in there because of poison ivy.

I remember the sumac trees in the treelines, not just on the 68th Street border, but also bordering Bingham. I remember the little neck of trees, which technically belonged to our neighbor, that had little trails in it that we used to explore. I remember the thin line of trees and raspberry bushes and a wire fence that bordered the back of the property. I remember the thick woods on the other side of the wheat field, where I was terrified to venture, because, although rare, black bears do roam in Newaygo County. (Probably nowhere near our farm, but still).

I remember the trees that had their tops knocked off in that big windstorm that one spring. I remember the two pine trees on either side of the woodpile (yes, we had one of those) losing at least half their height. I remember the evergreen in the driveway island near the well being reduced to about ten feet, and being cut down to a stump from there. I remember the pine tree right outside of our kitchen, that had its top fallen any other direction, it would have gone through the roof of my older sisters’ room. (I remember that tree being there, and it’s not anymore, because sometime in the past eleven years it’s been completely chopped down and uprooted). I remember our yard and driveway were covered with branches and tree tops, creating months of yard work.

I remember the other trees in the front yard, a pine tree to the right of where the driveway veered off for the wrap-around to the garage. I remember the pair of fir trees (Seth’s trees), where we buried the birds who’d fallen out of their nest. The nest was too high for us to restore them to it, so we tried nursing them ourselves (us and the Johnson kids) under the oak (my tree), keeping them out of harm’s way. (Harm mostly being our cat, Bill). We even christened them: Pete and Joe. We didn’t know what we were doing, and they died soon, anyway, just as our parents had said they would. Then, there was the evergreen (Kathryn’s tree), and down the hill from that was the mulberry tree, up which our aforementioned cat would run when the neighbor’s dogs would terrorize him.

But I don’t remember this tree.

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

I don’t just mean that I’ve forgotten it, as in, “Oh yeah, there was that tree.” I mean I search my memories, and it doesn’t exist there.

I think about the times I spent on our swing set thinking, which used to sit about where those branches are hanging to the right, facing the house, and that tree isn’t there.

I think about the time my dad came home from work in the middle of the day, and I was sent outside. I just sat, staring back at the house, and that tree isn’t there.

I think about the hundreds of time I must have walked and biked past it, and I try to call it to mind, but it’s just not there. And seeing it there now is unsettling.

I should remember it, but more than that, I should have memories of it. I mean, there wasn’t a whole lot I loved about the farm, but I loved the trees, and I have so many good memories involving them.

I don’t remember it, though.

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(Photo Credit: Lavonne Last, Realtor.com)

Not even looking at it from another angle.

Maybe if I saw it in person. Who knows?

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