Walking along 1st Street recently, where I lived from age five until age twenty, I heard the huge cottonwoods and alders, before I really saw them. Yes, they are over a hundred feet tall, yet it is like driving along the freeway: I see the road surface but I pay minimal attention to it, and make no note of it.
One of my character defects is that when I see something enough times, like the clutter stacked on my love-seat, it becomes invisible.
I did not see the trees … until they called to me.
The “yes, yes, yes,” sound of thousands of their leaves whooshing in the breeze beckoned me. It was then that I turned and really looked at them. I heard the softest, shooshy whisper, “We knew you as a little girl.”
By golly, they did.
Oh, the street has changed – the section that was twenty plus feet below street level for those three blocks along 1st Street had been filled in sometime in the last thirty years. The three houses that were there forty years ago were now gone, replaced by an electric company, the City Public Works, a towing company, and a couple other large truck and construction businesses.
Yet the trees were still there along the edge of the river, as tall and strong as ever. Lush with late summer golden and orange leaves, rustling susurrous voices, gently soughing their song to me.
To the little girl I was, and had mostly forgotten.
Hearing the trees, I remembered how I sang to them when I was out in the backyard batting my tetherball around the pole my dad put up for me when I was in elementary school. I remembered sitting in their shade for the picnics on the blanket with my sister and our dolls. I remembered the great dollops of snow falling from their boughs when the sun warmed their branches after a storm.
And the trees remembered me.