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A Short Story

Once upon a time seven children from three different states came to visit their family in Pennsylvania. Some came from far away in a car, plane or train so they could see each other and get to know their grandparents and great-grandparents, who lived in the lush farmlands and wooded meadows of western Lancaster County.

The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 3

The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 3

 

The joy of reading: Great Grandma Longenecker and Crista, age 4

Hearing bird sounds and reading stories: Great Grandma Longenecker with Crista, age 4

They liked too when Great Grandma would bring them warm strawberries from her patch in the spring time, and in the summer some ripe, pink-cheeked Bartlett pears from the tree planted near a gently flowing brook. Grandma loved trees and sometimes sat in the shade of a Japanese cherry tree as she rocked on the porch. She smelled the wisteria that twisted around a trellis close by and enjoyed the morning-glories climbing upon harp-like strings by the kitchen door.

One sad June day in 1980, their great grand-mother died, so all seven young children ages 1 1/2 – 11 gathered near the small village of Rheems to say “goodbye” to their Great Grandmother Fannie Longenecker, who was 89 years old. Some of the children called her Grandmother-of-the-Birds because she loved hearing birds chirp and gave them seeds to eat in the winter-time.

Great Grandma’s daughter, their Great Aunt Ruthie, loved trees too and when her mother died, she decided to plant an oak tree as a remembrance. All the children helped to plant the tree. Even the littlest one put some soil around the tree so the roots would be covered up tightly.

OakTreeGrandchildren

A Tall Tale

The tree grew and grew for thirty-five years. Now it is very, very tall. Cardinals, robins, and nuthatches hop around in its branches at various seasons of the year. In the summer squirrels enjoy the shade it sheds over the lawn.

Thirty-five-year-old oak tree in Grandma Longenecker's back yard 1980 - 2015

Thirty-five-year-old oak tree planted in 1980 in Grandma Longenecker’s back yard   2015 photo

The children visit Great Grandma’s house still, but they don’t often come at the same time now because they have grown up and have families of their own. When they do come, though, they can see how tall the tree has grown and imagine how deep the roots have spread out since they planted that tiny tree so many, many years ago.

Like birds, they have flown away on strong wings . . .

Like trees, they have memories deeply rooted in the Pennsylvania soil

 * * *

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.     ~  Warren Buffett

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.      ~  Marcus Garvey

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.     ~ Martin Luther

Friendship is a sheltering tree.    ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.    ~ Willa Cather, 1913

Trees are your best antiques.   ~ Alexander McCall Smith

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
~ Ogden Nash, “Song of the Open Road,” 1933   (parody of a Joyce Kilmer poem)

* * *

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3  KJV


Is there a tree of significance to your family? Where is it planted? What other images did you recall as you read this post?