I grew up beneath the outstretched arms of a century-old native pecan tree, its limbs reaching up and over our historic two-story home. In winter, bare branches were stark sentinels against the cold blue sky. Then spring brought flush after flush of leaves, softening the severe lines .
There were other trees on our property, too. In memory, my father planted any seed, seedling and transplant that he believed had a chance of surviving. There were ash, live oak, jujubee, pecan, mesquite and pine trees. And though the great pecan tree towered over all, the patriarch of our yard, every one of them gave us the dreamy shifting patterns of light and shade that carpeted our play yard.
For the last six years I have lived without the shadows of trees. My suburban lot, scraped bare to facilitate quick construction, was bereft of even the tiniest of trees. Sunlight, at all times during the year, struck our faces unfiltered by leaves, branches, or fruit. The grass was always warm and bright beneath our feet, neither marked nor cooled by the shadow of overhead beauty. The soft, mysterious light between the shadows of trees was missing.
Now I have it again, almost to excess, an abundance of light and shadow, dark patterns and mellow autumn light moving across my children’s upturned faces as they stretch out their hands to catch the drifting seasonal color.