I've tried to stand in the same spot at the corner of our driveway every so often to get a picture of Kristen's tree from roughly the same vantage point. Each season of the past year has brought drastic changes to that little oak. When it was planted early last September, it was green and beautiful. With the gift card in hand (given by some dear friends), the four of us drove to our local nursery and walked up and down each row of Shumard Oak trees. We carefully inspected each one, making sure that we found the "right" one for us...for Kristen. A couple of weeks later, the nursery called and said they would be by to plant it. We had marked out just the right spot in the front yard, easily visible from both the sidelight next to the front door and from our bedroom window (the only windows on the front of the house).
Will was at work the morning the nursery workers showed up to plant the tree. Not wanting him to miss it, I recorded the planting on our video camera. I had to laugh a little as I played it back later. One of the workers just couldn't keep from looking directly at the camera...time and time and time again! He had no idea why I was capturing the planting of a tree on video. Who knows what he thought! I didn't feel the need to share that day, so I recorded and the girls watched with anticipation as the tree settled into its new home on Meadowlark Lane.
Emily wanted Kristen's tree to have just the right marker. She and I searched on the internet and found a company that makes stainless steel tree markers. We were able to add a laser etched photo to the small marker that reads, "In Memory of Kristen." That little marker has weathered well. It gleams in the sunlight and makes me think of Emily as much as it reminds me of Kristen.
Last fall, we watched all the other trees in the neighborhood change to lovely fall colors. Kristen's tree, however, complete with lots of tiny little acorns, stayed green clear through most of October. At the end of that month, its leaves had changed to the most beautiful deep red color. I loved how it looked and decided that it had been worth the wait.
As Thanksgiving approached, the sweet little tree in our front yard lost all of its leaves. Even bare (except for the little acorns that continued to hang on), it was beautiful to me. Each leafless branch held the promise of new life.
Ice crystals decorated the tree in the winter, accentuating every bend, every tiny twig. One cold, sunny winter morning I looked out the sidelight window to see tiny ice crystals that seemed to completely fill the air. I told Emily that it looked like it was "glittering" outside! She commented that maybe God sent those few seconds to me to bring a smile to my face. It was breathtaking.
Just as we waited so long to see the beautiful red leaves in the fall, our little tree seemed to be one of the very last in the neighborhood to leaf out in the spring. By mid-April, we finally saw tiny new leaves beginning to pop out all over the tree. They were velvety red in the center. The sight of them lightened our hearts.
By early May, the beautiful green leaves had filled in, and the tree was as lovely as ever. A ring of pink geraniums decorated the base of the tree just in time for Kristen's birthday. Even through the heat of the summer, the tree (and the geraniums) have thrived.
I expect in another month or so the leaves will begin their colorful change.
Looking back at the photos of Kristen's tree over the seasons of last year brought to mind the words of Ecclesiastes 3:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.