Still to this day the rustling of leaves on poplar trees takes me back to my grandparents' farmhouse where stately poplars lined the cinder driveway. When Halloween came around, those trees and their skinny branches way up high became witches and black cats-goblins or monsters especially when an orange moon lit up the night, casting spooky shadows over the fields.
With four houses of relatives all in a row, it became a summer tradition of joining suppers in a particular backyard full of scotch pines. The shade was welcomed as was the scent of those trees as salads and hotdogs-hamburgers and all the trimmings were enjoyed. Later, while adults sat around enjoying a cup of coffee, the kids would play baseball-running from one tree to another.
From a big old tree sitting on the banks of sucker creek, holding our rope swing in its grasp so we could run real fast, take a leap, grab hold of the rope with our hands and situate our feet on the knot at the bottom as over the creek we'd soar and maybe land on our feet on the other side-avoiding quite possibly the biggest rock ever-to trees we'd climb and dangle from branches-to trees we'd decorate or spread a blanket underneath and play and pretend-so many trees are wrapped within our family trees.
And as famiies grow, so do the memories involving new trees in our family trees-like the maple tree out our back door. No matter the season that tree stands tall-offering shade and comfort; astonishing colored leaves to a breathtaking backdrop when the leaves are gone and it stands proud with its branches bare. That maple tree is the center of activity-with swings hanging and a sandbox nearby and chairs to sit in and talk as the summer breeze whispers by.
My son and I have had many a conversation under that tree-some are serious-others a hodgepodge of topics. Sometimes we count how many bass boats go by. Other times we guess the colors of cars before we see them. Today it was a serious conversation. I couldn't get him out of his funk-until I noticed the moon way up high. It reminded me of another conversation I had with a certain 5-year old on her last sleepover. We were out on the pull-out sofa on the back porch discussing the moon.
"I love the moon," I told her.
"Sometimes you can see the moon when the sun is out, Gra-Gra!"
"You can? I am going to look tomorrow."
"I said sometimes, Gra-Gra. You can't see it every day."
"Whenever I do see the moon when the sun is out I will think of you."
"Make a funny face Gra-Gra! Like this!"
And that's when I got my son out of his funk. I imitated a funny face that really was funny that night out on the back porch. He laughed-and we started counting bass boats as we sat underneath that maple tree.