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  • Twenty years stands between the two trees, chestnut and birch.
    There was another chestnut, a maple, and apple that did not make it.
    Bad winters, deer, the chocking effects of the grass on the young roots killed them off.
    The chestnut was my 30th birthday present, a life kit.
    An anchor.
    When I go home, to my family’s house, I visit my tree.

    ***

    We walked to the Arboretum one Sunday, through the tall stands of Dawn Redwood and past massive cork trees with branches the size of mature trunks.
    Then, we went on to the bonsai house, where we saw living poetry in clay pots.

    **

    I am going to my own home, today, after being away for months, on assignment.
    After months of a parking lot view.
    Two short visits and one family crisis blur my sense of home.
    There is some rediscovering to do.

    At my own home I have planted many trees during the 10 years I have been there.
    Apple, pear, peach, horse chestnut, cork, red maples, Asian white pine and tree lilacs, some are seedlings from my mother’s yard.

    I planted three types of crabapple, years apart.
    There is a weeping style, one deep red and a sergeant crab.
    They form a row, make an irregular sentence.
    They are a counterpoint to the stands of old apple trees that were planted long before my time, at the edges of the feild.

    **
    I planted a Dawn Redwood last spring.
    The local Nursery was an old family business, run by the nephew of the woman who had owned our house, and it closed last year.
    I went to say my goodbyes to their inspiring gardens and left with a trunk full of a future giant.
    When I got home with massive root balls twined in burlap my husband grinned.
    I had just been going to the post office you see.
    “You finally got one,” he said, excited, when I told him it was a Dawn Redwood, a fossil tree.
    I went to dig a hole in a favored spot where the soil was moist and it would have room to spread out.
    Then, my brother Ben drove up, coming through town on the way to Gotts Island. We had not seen him for more than a year, almost two.
    He got out of his car and without too much of a pause we were all sledding the root ball up our hill to the hole I had prepared.
    That is how we say hello in our family.
    How we say life will go on.
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