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The Magnolia, 1969

Once upon a time, there was a house with two magnolia trees. One grew in the back yard. The little girl who lived in the house would have picnics in its shade, but its lower branches were out of her reach. Then one day the girl discovered the second magnolia tree, growing outside the tall wooden fence. Its branches had not been trimmed, and she discovered that she could climb them. She was cautious by nature, so she did not climb very high.

The Mimosa, 1970

In front of the little girl’s grandmother’s house grew a mimosa tree. The little girl loved its pink feathery blossoms, and the way its leaves would curl up if she held them in the nighttime of her closed hand. More than 40 years later, she still remembers how to climb the tree. Reach up with both arms and grab those two branches, plant left foot on the truck there, push off and pull up and swing around to the right and land just there, sitting in the crook where a branch meets the trunk. When she would come down from the tree, her mother would tell her the story of the time she was a little girl climbing trees, and she got too close to a nest, and was pecked on the head by an angry mama bird.

The Pin Oaks, 1976

The little girl’s daddy was a woodworker, and he had made her a sturdy, strong swing. When the little girl and her family moved to a new house, her daddy made sure the swing came with them. He hung it in the new back yard, between two oak trees. The people who lived in the house before had built a treehouse in another part of the yard. In the summers, if the little girl wasn’t swinging, she was reading up among the leaves.

The Cedar, 2003

The little girl was all grown up, married, with two young children of her own. She had moved away, moved again, then moved back to the house with the pin oaks. Now, her daughter and son were the ones swinging on her daddy’s swing. One Christmas, the children decorated a big fat cedar tree in the yard with things the birds could eat. Not long after, they discovered the dog underneath the tree, feasting on a garland of Froot Loops.

The Maple, 2004

The woman and her family moved to a new house in a faraway state. She made sure her daddy’s swing came with them. But there was no place in the new yard for it to hang, so the swing stayed in the storage shed. But there was a tree in the new yard good for climbing. A maple, whose winged seeds would helicopter to the ground before its leaves turned brilliant red in the fall. The woman’s daughter loved to climb the maple. She climbed higher than the woman ever did.

The Figs, 2009

In the side yard of the new house in the faraway state were two ancient fig trees, as tall as the garage. The woman’s mother had taught her to love figs. Now, if the woman was fast enough, she could beat the squirrels and birds to the ripe figs. The fig trees were the domain of her son. He and the boy next door nailed boards to the trunks and strung rope between the lower branches. Girls keep out.

The Old Oak, 2013

The family moved again, this time to a house surrounded by woods. It was a lot like the house where the woman once lived. After a few months, even before the boxes were all unpacked, the woman took a trip. When she returned, her husband had a gift for her. On the branch of an old oak tree in the back yard, he had hung up her daddy’s swing.

Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or ldavis@annistonstar.com.

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.