Tree’s roots, family’s intertwine

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2012

After I returned from rolling the garbage hobo to the curb, I walked around in my back yard. I needed to remove a few limbs scattered on the freshly mown lawn. I gathered the small ones in one arm, and dragged the largest with my other hand across the yard. I dropped them close to the street for a later pick-up. I always watch my step, careful of the many roots that snake their way across my path on the way from the front yard to the back. Sometimes I grumble when the hobo bumps along over them, especially when it is loaded with heavy garbage.

As I made my way, I noticed a root that wound around the trunk of the mighty water oak near the house. It is the source of that network of spreading roots. Something, maybe a slight rustle in the tree from a breeze or a squirrel, drew my attention upward. I tilted my head back. My eyes traveled all the way to the highest reach of the tree. Amazing! I hadn’t noticed how tall that tree had grown. It soars as high, maybe higher, than most of the trees close by.

Standing there, gazing up, it was hard to believe that this tree with branches towering above the roof of our house was just a twig my husband and daughter once held in their hands. I heard my husband tell its story several times. It seems that not too long after we moved into the house in the late 1960s, I was out shopping and our daughter got restless. She and her daddy went outside where he pulled up a twig and said, “Let’s plant this.” And together they did. They watched with pride through the years as the tree thrived.

I can’t count how many times our son teasingly announced to his sister that “Mom and Dad are going to have that tree cut down.” Once when she lived far away, he phoned her and told her “Mom and Dad had that tree cut down.” Of course, he knew we never would have bothered that tree unless a hurricane blew it over or some other catastrophic thing happened to it. It was just another way he enjoyed teasing his sister.

Several years ago, we had a concern about the tree and consulted an expert. He put a brace between a division point, trimmed some limbs, and cut down some others. My husband saved a chunk from one of the limbs, drew a picture of the tree on top, put a clear preservative over the drawing, and added a nice finish all over it. He glued a piece of the blanket our daughter carried around as a toddler on the bottom. It made a nice-looking doorstop that he presented to her on her birthday. To her it’s a treasure.

With the history of that tree in mind, there’s no alternative. I’ll just keep stepping over and around those aggravating roots.To the editor:

Thos of us who frequently visit our city library recognize that it is one of the great treasures of Andalusia. Under th direction of Mrs. Karin Taylor, members of the staff provide a wonderful atmosphere of welcome and eagerness to help. Mrs. Joan Herring was one of those who greeted everyone with a smile and treated every request for help with graciousness and alacrity. She was a most efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly employee and quickly became my special friend. Recently, Mrs. Herring suffered a fatal heart attack. I join the librarians, the family and a host of library friends in grieving over the loss of this dear lady. I am just one of the many patrons with whom she took a special interest in supplying books to read. Often, she would call, stating that she had found a book (or books) she knew I would enjoy and that she had reserved for me. On my visits to browse the stacks, she would join me, pulling out the novels she knew would be of interest.

Suggested titles and authors would be ordered. Many others have shared these special kindnesses. Our city has lost a wonderful, dedicated employee. How I shall miss my special library friend!

Maggie Shelley