I go to see my favorite tree a few times a year.
The tree sits in front of my former home in West Richmond, VA. The City of Richmond has an Adopt-a-Tree program where residents can pay for street trees and the City will plant a tree in front of your home.
Richmond’s streets are lined with huge trees, many planted decades ago. Walnuts, pecans, oaks, and cherries shade the sidewalks and the travel lanes. Their massive roots lift up the asphalt in the street and the concrete in the sidewalk. Some of the more notable trees have been preserved by routing the sidewalk in a semi-circular fashion around their roots. We were advised by the city arborist that a Japanese Zelkova was a perfect street tree – fast growing with a good shade canopy and roots that tended to grow down instead of out so they won’t rip up the sidewalk. Our zelkova was green in the spring and summer and turned to brilliant fall hues in the autumn.
The tree was planted in the first week of October, just a few days after John, our oldest, was born. It has always been John’s tree. At first, the two looked somewhat alike. The Zelkova was a scrawny sapling held vertical by a wooden stake. Born weighing over 8 pounds, John had trouble feeding in his first month and by Halloween he was scrawny too. (He is now a teenager, and his six daily meals today make up for his early feeding problems).
We moved when the tree was only five years old, so most of the tree’s beautiful years have been enjoyed by the people who lived in the house after us. So it is true with many trees. Countless times, I have driven down Grove Avenue in West Richmond to enjoy the early fall show of spectacular yellows, oranges, and reds. Most of those trees were planted before World War II. Their planters have long since moved away, yet we all are able to enjoy them.
A Chinese proverb says that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the next best time is now. What saplings can we plant in our daily lives that will give beauty and hope to those who come after us? We plant the seeds of goodwill every day and cultivate them with our commitment to public service.
Fall is here. The leaves on John’s tree are about to turn. I can’t wait to see it again. Thanks for all you do.
Submitted by Anthony Romanello