Leaf Me Alone

My daughter gestured toward the tree in her front yard and exclaimed, “Eve is so messy! In the spring she drops thousands of seed pods. I suppose this fall she’ll drop a ton of leaves!” In a grumpy tone she added, “I’m not looking forward to raking them up.”

I nodded sympathetically and pointed out, “There’s a lot of yard work when a person owns their own home, even when their yard is as small as yours.”

In early November my daughter Tammie will be celebrating her one-year anniversary as a home owner. The day she took ownership and signed the papers, we met Susan, the former owner.

As we waited for the realtor to collate the paperwork, Susan told us, “When my granddaughter, Eve, was in third grade, she gave me the maple tree that stands in front of the house. She came home from school one afternoon with a sprouted maple seed in a Styrofoam coffee cup. I planted it and now I can’t believe how big it’s grown. In my granddaughter’s honor, I’ve named the tree, Eve.”

Judging by the girth of its trunk, I’m guessing Eve-the-little-girl hasn’t been in third grade for more than twenty years.

It may seem odd to name trees in our yards after family members, but I suspect other people do the same thing.

My late husband planted a tree for me a few years before he died. When we bought it, a tag hanging on one of the branches identified it as a sunset maple, a variety that turns a bright orange in the fall. Year after year, I anticipated the glorious color and was disappointed.

One day several weeks after Arnie died, I looked at the tree and remembered him digging the hole, planting and watering it. Praying, I asked, “Lord, if all is well with Arnie, please allow Arnie’s tree to have bright orange leaves this fall.”

When the leaves changed that autumn, they were drab. The next fall was the same and the subsequent two falls, too. On the fifth fall after Arnie’s death, the tree’s leaves turned a brilliant orange, and I remembered my request for bright leaves. They were so outstanding, I took several pictures. When the leaves finally fell to the ground in October that year, I gathered them up and spread them in my garden as mulch. They dried and became brittle, crunching down to pieces the size of confetti.

Those colorful leaves made colorful crumbles. All summer the following year, I would sometimes dig in the dry garden soil and come across pretty little bits of leaves. When I saw them, I couldn’t help but smile and say to them, “Hello, Arnie!”

I hoped the sunset maple tree would always have glow-in-the-dark fall leaves from that year on. I reasoned that maybe it had finally matured. That hasn’t been the case. Every year since then, the leaves on Arnie’s tree only change to a drab, dirty-orange.

Each year that passes, as Eve’s and Arnie’s tree continue to grow, they make more and more leaves. At first it was easy to gather them and put them in the garden. Last year there were so many leaves I ended up leaving quite a few to blow around on the lawn.

This is the first year that Tammie will have to deal with Eve. She doesn’t remember if the leaves were colorful last year. When my daughter saw the house for the first time last fall, her thoughts were focused on the size of the rooms, closet storage and kitchen lay-out.

Very soon the tree leaves will change and drop to the ground. I expect Tammie will complain, “Mom, Eve is so messy!”



3 thoughts on “Leaf Me Alone

  1. Beautiful story. It is true, there are definitely signs from our loved ones and it means so much whenit happens.

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