I originally wrote this piece about 15 or more years ago, when we lived on Asbury Avenue in Evanston, Illinois. I never got around to publishing it, but thought it was appropriate now that the dogwood tree is once again full of blossoms.
The Dogwood Tree
Dogwoods are very rare in my neighborhood in Evanston, Illinois. We live too far north for them to withstand the rigors of winter. But there is a dogwood tree near my house on Asbury Avenue. It is about two blocks south outside the house that was once the “Chandler” house, owned by the family that owned and operated Chandler’s Department Store in downtown Evanston for many years, the store that published the “Chandler Assignment Notebook,” that my children and thousands of children bought each year in September to help them organize their homework and other assignments.
The tree sits on the southwest corner of the house next to the front porch where it is warmed by the sun. It is always a delight to see it each spring with its magnificent white blossoms, letting the world know that spring is back.
I’ve been thinking about that particular dogwood this spring. I had an idea, a thought. Why not take a photo of it, and possibly write a poem celebrating it. Before leaving for work the following day I put my camera in my backpack, hoping to take a photo or two with the morning light shining on the branches, with the delicious white flowers adorning the tree.
I approached the white house holding the dogwood and its blossoms in my consciousness. Just as I was passing the house, the owner came out, a slender man in his mid-40s. He opened the door, went out on his porch, and walked slowly, deliberately to the southwest corner near the dogwood to admire it. I marveled that we were both intent on the tree at the same time. He approached the tree and took a blossom in his hand, touching it gently, caressing it. Then he twisted off the blossom to take it with him.
I was in awe that we had each come from our separate places intent on the tree and its blossoms. I did not want to break the spell or intrude on his time with the tree. It was a shared moment of love for this tree, giving us both joy in its being. I enjoy that he loves and appreciates this tree, that others are entranced by its beauty, that is gives us this just by its being, to him, to me and to countless others walking or driving by. We are kindred spirits—him, the tree and me. What a blessing.