En route to visit my friend Bethany on Saturday, I passed by my old schoolyard. My school, Webster Elementary, is no longer there, but where it used to be is now a park, with simply grass, trees, and one lone bench right in the middle.
When I drove by the first time, I was surprised not to recognize the surroundings much. It didn’t look familiar enough. This should not have been surprising to anyone else because what was there to recognize but grass and trees? But an old tree, a very special oak tree, is exactly what I was looking for.
I described to Bethany that this tree was the location of my “club,” if you could call it that, where my friend Laura and I hung out frequently during recess in the 4th grade. We would collect acorns from all around the tree and store them in the various nooks and crannies made by the roots of the tree, and tuck them away into the little cubbies created by the roots.
Bethany explained that where I parked was the backside of the property, and I should drive down the other street to get to where the big long driveway used to lead up to the school. Even the driveway is gone now, but as we talked I could picture my school buses, bright and yellow, lined up in the drive, to drop us off at our school.
When I pulled up to this side of the property, I felt a little more at home, and I looked straight toward the spot where my beloved tree had stood. Only it seemed as if a smaller tree had taken it’s place. It was tall enough, but as a child I remembered it being much larger around. But everything seems big to a kid, and so I kept walking toward it. As I got closer, my doubts grew, but as I finally stepped up to the base of the tree, I began to examine the roots. I noticed all those nooks and crannies that I remembered from years ago, and the memories came flooding back. This was my tree!! I marveled at the fact that this was all that was left of a place that I loved, and I picked up an old acorn and tucked it into a crevice for old times’ sake.
It was an in describable moment, and I was glad even for a second that the school was no longer there. For I’m sure that it had changed dramatically over the years. It may have been remodeled, painted or built onto, and I’m sure my teachers would have been long gone. But the tree, it was timeless.
In the fall, I plan to go back to collect an acorn or two, so that I can plant a piece of this tree in front of my home someday, to fondly remember my Webster tree.