It was a spur of the moment decision but the best memories are usually made accident anyway. I’d wanted to do a front porch session with my grandparents, Bob and Peg (or as we call them, Mimi and Papa), since the beginning of this year, and I just happened to be in their area with my camera when it finally worked out. Me and my mom popped by to take a few photos and spend some time with them in the dappled light filled yard.
Going to my Mimi and Papa’s house is like traveling back in time to when things were simpler, and simple things just feel a little sweeter sometimes. Their two story home on their tree filled street transports me to a time when peanut butter on saltines was a delicacy, especially when paired with Cream Soda and Mimi’s mac n cheese. And don’t even get us started on her cookies. Eating one is like tasting magic. But the house: tall, square, and built in the 60’s with vines growing up the side that faces the neighbor’s. Mimi and Papa are the sole owners of this home. It feels like an extension of them. Inside all kinds of relics are tucked into every nook and corner, some of which Papa brought outside to share with us during our spontaneous visit — old polaroids of the house in various seasons. Time has been kind to this place. As the trees grew taller so the blessings–namely, family–grew wider. What started as two oaks (and three saplings) on Rockledge grew into a grove.
Speaking of the oaks, Papa planted most of them. One tree in particular was once stuck by lighting and he spent all sorts of love and care to nurse it back to health so that it could continue to grow, and it did. Papa loves trees. I actually don’t know when it started, but I know why it started. He looks at trees and sees they point to God, branches as arms outstretched to the heavens, giving praise. “God is the one who is great.” Papa learned that from trees. He has passed it down to all of us, the grove. We each hold it near in our own way, but I do so by trying to raise trees myself. That’s another story for another time, but I have one in my backyard now, a bur oak, that will be ready to plant soon. Papa told me to wait until it sleeps, when the leaves fall off, and plant it then. Papa has planted many trees in his time, so I trust his instructions. Odd as it may seem though, to plant when the leaves are gone, when the tree seems at its weakest, its homeliest?
I’ve always found planting to be incredibly cathartic. When I repot plants my soul is always spoken to in the kindest tones. And then I think about how I want to be a tall oak like my Mimi and Papa. He has planted so many trees that have grown tall and strong. Did they all go into the ground looking homely and winter-worn? Is it in my own seasons of cold weather that I’m actually gaining the strength to grow deep roots and flourish in times of spring, too?
Papa loves trees. I wonder if he knows that to me, he is one. A tall oak, who has always been planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season. His leaves have never withered, in all he’s done he’s prospered. And what he’s done with his life is plant seeds of gratitude and the love of God in his grove. There’s not an encounter with Papa where he doesn’t tell you how much he loves you, how proud he is of you, and how great God is. I wonder if he knows that I see him as an oak, and that I want to be an oak just like him.
He and Mimi planted their life at their little home on Rockledge years and years ago. And then they began the work of growing the trees. And I am one of them.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Psalm 1: 1-3