Four Maples

A friend from my high school years (which, my daughters remind me, were literally in the last century) sends me an email, and I email back from my car, in a gray parking lot beside even grayer Lake Champlain. I remember canoeing from Burton Island to the mainland on a bright, balmy morning last July, and then waiting on a high point on the mainland, watching the ferry traveling across the lake with my 12-year-old daughter and her friend. When the ferry docked, I ran down to meet them, the girls glowing and happy with their adventure.

This friend writes about taking his kids swimming, and I wonder, pond or lake, river or pool? It’s been so long since I’ve seen him I would pass him by on the street, and not recognize him.

Finished, I fold up my laptop. I nod goodbye to this polluted and yet gorgeously beautiful lake and head towards a building where I’ll be blind to the lake all day, but I think for just one more moment of that town where I grew up. Along the square of lawn that my sister and brother and I wore down through endless kickball games stood four giant sugar maples, so tall their lowest branches were high above our heads. I wonder if there’s any chance those maples are still there, haven for songbirds, their leaves lifting up and ruffling over in approaching summer storms.

Once there was a tree….
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest…

— Shel Silverstein


Where we are now

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