Most of the trees that surround my family and I are pine trees but the deciduous willow tree located north of our house is one of my favorite trees. When I think about “home,” the sight of our big willow tree is part of that image.
After doing a little research, I’ve identified our type of willow tree as a peachleaf willow, which is more common and native to South Dakota. I think part of me enjoys this tree so much because it’s one of the few deciduous trees we have close to our home.
Our willow tree is where our kids’ tree fort is. I have many memories of our kids spending summer days there when they were younger. They spent hours building onto, playing in, and eating lots of lunches there. On a couple of the willow’s low hanging branches the kids put up some of their own homemade swings and set up a tent once under the willow tree’s canopy.
This tree is where our horses sometimes like to stand under for shade or where they scratch their backs on the low-hanging branch that’s at the right height. It’s where we were surprised one time to find a new born calf born under one rainy late spring morning.
This tree has been the image I’ve stared at thousands of times from our loveseat couch looking out the window at while arranging words in my mind for my column or just to sort out my thoughts. It’s been the first thing I’d see when I woke up on the hide-a-bed after moving downstairs to try to trick my insomnia.
Our big willow tree has been the habitat for thousands of birds in the spring and summer months of which we enjoy the company of. This spring, it was especially alive with the sounds of hundreds of finches chattering all day for a couple of weeks while finding food from the tree’s buds, bark, and young twigs. The constant chatter of so many birds chirping at once was actually calming and soothing to listen to.
Our willow tree has been a contestant reminder to never take for granted the value trees have in our lives and the abundance of things they provide, physically as well as mentally. Their presence has significance and I cannot imagine home in my mind without it.