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Talking it over: Weeping willows

When I was young, one of my favorite memories is playing under weeping willow trees. My favorite willow tree was one at my aunt and uncle's farm place. It was a huge willow with endless branches reaching to the ground. We not only played under those branches but I also remember a fun picnic with my mom, aunt and cousins.

This memory remained with me and when my mother passed away, I selected a weeping willow tree to plant in her memory. My hope was that it would grow big and tall, like the one in my youth, and perhaps my grandchildren could enjoy its beauty and fun.

The willow tree did beautifully that first year and I had hopes for its survival. However, one fall morning I noticed something different about the tree. A deer had apparently enjoyed it also and rubbed most of the bark away. The next spring, the tree did not look healthy and we had to remove the top portion. Small branches grew from the remaining stump but we didn't have much hope for the tree.

My husband and I decided to get another willow to replace that one. However, I just couldn't quite give up on moms tree so we moved what was left of it to a different location. As the second tree grew bigger and stronger, I started to nurse along just one of the shoots on the first tree. Before long, that shoot was a thick branch and soon it became a large tree.

Last summer, the second tree died but the first tree is healthy and strong. In the fall my two older grandchildren and I played under its branches, pretending it was our own little fort. This last weekend my biggest wish came true.

I watched with interest as the two oldest grandchildren once again ran through the branches, laughing and screaming. Soon they came up and asked for a blanket to spread under the tree where they also brought toys and snacks. Soon another grandchild joined them and before long, all five were sitting beneath the tree, playing and snacking. I grabbed my camera and captured the moment. However, I really wouldn't have needed a picture because the image of my grandchildren playing under moms tree will forever be etched in my mind and my heart. I hope it will be a memory they will also cherish.