A few years ago, I knocked on the door of my childhood home.
When a friendly stranger answered the door, I asked:
“Would it be okay if I took a photo of the tree in your backyard?
I watched as her expression changed from confusion to joy as I told her stories of the cherry tree, once a dear friend of mine….
As a child, the cherry tree in the backyard was my world. My domain.
It provided me with constant entertainment – unlike plastic toys or dolls. I never grew bored of the tree because my imagination never tired. There was always another story to create and another drama to settle.
My neighbors and I would play in the tree for hours, using the tree as base for tag and a look out to capture “bad guys.” We all made a deal not to tell my mom how high we climbed because she was afraid we’d fall out and “crack our heads open.”
Without any fears or insecurities, we played games as the tree provided us with props and sets – fairy nook, pirate ship, space shuttle, enchanted caste (the list goes on…).
While my siblings, neighbors, and I were too busy imagining the tree as something else, we never appreciated its natural form – how it welcomed and styled each season with grace and beauty.
We never noticed that the cherry blossom petals looked like giant pink snowflakes when they gently fell upon our hair. We never listened to the swooshing sound of bright green leaves that swayed with the strong summer wind. We didn’t complain about the horrible stench of the mulch below our dangling feet.
In those days, we just ran outside, lifted ourselves from the ground to the sky, and played – in scorching heat or the freezing cold. It didn’t matter. There were stories to be told.
As I stood there on the steps of my childhood home, sharing memories of the tree, I said to the friendly stranger:
“I want to paint that tree for my mom as a Mother’s Day gift,” I told the friendly stranger. “She loved that tree. It would be the perfect gift for her…”
After snapping a few photos of the old tree, I painted it for my mom on Mother’s Day. Since then, friends and even strangers have expressed interest in the tree painting.
While I don’t visit or climb the tree anymore, I remember all the childhood memories, dramatic adventures, and goofy neighbors as I paint the tree for other people.
I believe a massive climbing tree is one of God’s most precious gifts to a child with a wild imagination and a sense of adventure. It was better than any toy, any pet, or any gift I could have ever asked for.
The tree made my corner of the world a brighter place. I hope this painting makes you feel sunny and happy – no matter the season.