Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bill's wife's favorite tree

Over my blog break, we got fresh snow on the hills around town, and fall color has started in earnest down here in the valley. This brings to mind...

Every year about this time I get a colorful reminder of one of the main things about a town you've lived in for a while that makes it different from a town you don't know, besides the people. It's the associations. The stories to go with things. For instance, if I stand out back and look across the vacant lot, I can see a certain tree, currently deep red on the fringes. Years and years ago now, I caught an old man looking at that tree in fall color, and Bill told me that it had been his wife's favorite tree, that she loved how it changed color, and how deep the colors were. He was a widower, and I hadn't known his wife. But every year in autumn I think of him - dead several years now himself - and her, and how he liked to look at that tree because it was her favorite tree. In a way it has made it one of my favorite trees in town, too.

I hadn't thought of Bill in a long time, but today I stood looking at that tree and let the memories wash over me. It was nice.

It's a little thing, I know. Like how in my old hometown you either knew which was Ritter's Hill and which was Ashby's Hill, etc., or you didn't, because you sure couldn't find them listed on a map. You could only know if someone told you, and for that you pretty much had to live there. And talk to people. And listen.

Such little things, and yet how connected they can make you feel to a place.

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