There was a great article a while back in the NY Times from a writer that took notice of time through the changes in the trees outside of his window.

I read the piece with a bit of a slack jaw because I, myself, do something very similar. I can remember the things I do, the things my sons and I do more importantly, through what is happening to the trees. The reason, I argued, that I could grow to love this apartment was because it sat right in front of a large nature preserve and it was the closest thing to outdoorsy I imagined one could get in the suburbs. It has proven to be the case, right down to the relentless summer mosquitos.

When we first moved into our suburban apartment, nearly four years ago this autumn, the leaves had turned and started to gather at the base of the trees. It was a windy day and I can recall holding a 22-month old Penguin and watching the leaves swirl up into the air and the limbs sway with no resistance to the wind.

That spring, a number of the trees burst forth with these beautiful and fragrant whitish-pink blooms. One morning when Penguin and I were outside, again with the wind in our favor, the petals all started blowing off the tree. A soft, fragrant snowstorm of petals overtook us and for a full five minutes, until the  last of the petals fell, we danced in the downfall.

Incidentally, or perhaps not, I learned of Owl’s pregnancy a few weeks later. On my more mystical days, I’d like to think this was my botanical clarion call that another blessing was heading our way.

That summer, the lush green of the trees by our apartment and the hundred feet beyond created the backdrop for so much of my time outside with Penguin. The sound of rustling leaves, so loud and yet so comforting, the soundtrack to our adventures. The stormy summer nights, when thunder, lighting and heavy winds would push the trees and the branches in every direction, creating a sound so loud it was though you were standing at the base of a massive waterfall.

In the fall, my belly large from a little Owl, I took several walks among the trees with Penguin. We slopped through the soggy leaves, smelled the peat smell of forest and crunched through the piles that managed to find a little bit of sunlight.

As the trees became bare and it became impossible for me to walk long distances without tiring, I knew that our little family of three would soon be no more and in a few weeks, a new little presence would embrace our lives. Snow dripped from the limbs and on some moon-filled nights it would be so bright back there, it was though the earth was lit from below.

On the drive to the hospital the morning Owl was to be born, I touched the branches of the bare trees outside our front door. Grabbed pine needles in my finger tips as I passed and smelled the sticky sweet sap on my fingers.


There are days, more days that I can count, where I can be found staring out our back patio window. Looking to the trees. Watching the squirrels and the birds make their homes in the branches. Watching the boys run circles around the trunks and play in the dirt at the base. Marking the days of the year by the color of the leaves, the loudness of the rustling, the earthy smell in the air, the drag of the limbs by weight of snow and ice.

Right now, I see the tiniest hint of a green bud on the littlest tree by my back patio and I know that Spring, in earnest, will be here soon.