|Ode to a Tree
|© Darrell Young|
My new wife and I stood, hand in hand, in the warm spring sun nearly 27 years ago. It was a warm day for May in 1979, and the birds were singing in praise of the new colors of the earth. As we basked in the warmth of the sun and felt the happiness of a newly married couple, Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains seemed like the perfect place to be...this day.
Months go by, and life does too. Now it's fall and life is slowing down, readying itself for the coming winter. We stand in the same spot from half a year ago, still deeply in love, hand in hand. We stopped here just because we remembered, and "our" tree was still there, preparing for sleep by changing colors and fluttering leaves. We both took a picture.
The children grew, two were married, and a new granddaughter, Caidance, lit up our lives. 2003 was a good year. The autumn leaves welcomed her into the world, and our visit to the tree confirmed the tradition.
It was quiet in our car, as we all looked out over the field where our tree had always been. The valley between two mountains was alone, our family friend was gone. Not a sign of the tree was there, not a leaf, branch, or stump. It was as if it had never been.
Now, only in our memories, the tree still stands. Does anyone else even know? Does the young couple we saw having a picnic last year at the base of our tree know that it is no more? Do the birds that raised babies in its branches fly over puzzled? Do the deer that grazed in its summer shade have a memory?
How many millions of people have driven through Cades Cove in 27 years, and passed our tree without a thought or a picture? Or, are there others? We surely couldn't be the only ones who saw it, and came to love…a single proud tree in a valley, with three mountains in its view.
We are older now, the kids are growing up, and this year has gone by. The winter is almost here. Next year, my wife, and I, and the three children still at home, will go back to the Cove, stop at the spot, and remember. All we have are our memories, each other, and a family tradition of cameras and pictures, and mountains. Our tree has left us full of the mountains, with sweet memories of many days in the Cove, with deer in the fields and bears in the trees, and sunsets. To our tree, wherever you are now…we will never forget you. Thank you for giving us so many years of pleasure and tradition and family!
Keep on capturing time ... (now you know why I say this on each article I write)
Copyright © 2005 by Darrell Young, a.k.a. Digital Darrell, All Rights Reserved