Trees: Times Past

1963.13 JCI,jacaranda tree

© irene waters 2018

It may seem like a strange topic choice for a memoir examination where we are specifically looking for differences between generations and geographical locations but I wonder how much trees, or lack of them, affect how we currently view trees. Did a tree ever feature in a story of your life? When is the first time that you consciously thought about a tree or trees? Looking at early family photography did a tree ever feature in a photograph? Did you have a special tree?

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

Baby Boomer Australian country town  —-> the city.

Although we grew up in a small town in the country and were surrounded by trees they played only a small part in my consciousness at the time. We had a Jacaranda tree out the front on the street which my brother used to climb and I was put into for this photo but it was a tree just out of frame that was my nemesis. My brother built himself a platform on which he and his friends could sit without being disturbed by me who was usually at the base begging for them to pull me up. They usually ignored me and I was thrilled on the one occasion that they decided to allow me access to their private quarters. They pulled me up and I have to admit the climb wasn’t that onerous. Almost as soon as I was up they decided that they would go ride their bikes or some other such pursuit and descended leaving me alone with my fears. No matter how much I tried to overcome my terror of descending perhaps quicker than was called for, I could not make myself start the climb down. It seemed like hours before my Dad heard my calls for help and came out to assist me down. It is the first and last tree I attempted to climb.

When we moved to the city several years later I was full of anger towards my parents. I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to leave my friends and I didn’t want to leave the country surroundings I’d grown up with. “Don’t worry” my mother assured me. “We are moving to Strathfield and it’s a suburb that is known for its trees.” I obviously hung onto this idea and became even angrier when the tree’d suburb was one where there was a sick, stunted tree planted in the nature strip at regular intervals. These trees were nothing like the random, untidy gums and tallow woods of my country town – trees that when I lived there I had barely noticed. You don’t realise how much something means to you until it has gone and now – trees are an important part of my psyche.

I’m looking forward to reading  your memories……. and don’t forget that if you are interested in memoir check out the series on the second Friday of the month over at Carrot Ranch. Join in the conversation.

Baby Boomer Australian city

Gen X – South Africa


About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
This entry was posted in Australia, creative writing, Memoir, memoir writing, Past Challenge, photography, Times Past and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Trees: Times Past

  1. I’ve written a novel called “The Tree House Mother.” A huge California pepper tree features in it, and the symbolism of trees and leaves threads throughout the book. Hopefully one day you’ll be able to read the book, as I hope to have it published eventually. The story was inspired by my love of all big trees, specifically of two California pepper trees.

    Baby boomer here.

    The photo of you and your brother in the blooming jacaranda tree is very cool, though you do look as if you’re perched precariously. The color of the blossoms is extraordinary.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ksbeth says:

    great post and that tree is lovely. growing up in michigan, we had an old maple tree in our front yard that i used to climb up into to sit in the crook and read, away from all the world, in my secret place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think we all need our hidden places to escape too. I had a Canadian pen friend who sent me pictures of her maple tree which was huge. The only other maples I know are Japanese maples which seem to be a much smaller tree. You either had a long way to climb or a short way but what a wonderful memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely read, Irene. I enjoyed reading about some of your interactions with trees.

    Liked by 3 people

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  5. Corina says:

    We never stop long enough to give thought to our beautiful trees. Trees have been mentioned in some of my memoir pieces but I haven’t written about them in awhile. Guess it may be time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are right Corina. I was surprised when I started looking at photographs for this post that in all the childhood photographs there was only one tree featured. Plenty of shrubberies but only one tree and yet they must have been there. Yes it could be time for you to revisit your memoirs.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. calmkate says:

    Trees were always a major joy in my life have so many memories of various ones that flooded back as I started to read yours.

    My ‘safe’ place was in a dead tree on the beachfront, dead because it’s roots had been buried by the dunes. but it was a high platform from where I viewed incoming storms … a favourite of mine. Then there was the fig tree at Grandmas where I loved to climb and pick the fruit. The huge old mulberry tree across the road where we were adept at catching the fruit below in large old sheets while jumping on the branches to make them fall. Then there were the huge gums down the street which we used to climb to collect cicadas to hide in the outside dunny to annoy Dad. So they were always significant escapades for me and obviously I was a bit of a tom boy 🙂


  7. Rebel Guy says:

    Apple trees are my first appreciation . I was 6 years old . Apple crisp etched into my brain .

    Liked by 2 people

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  9. willowdot21 says:

    This is a beautiful idea and I would love to join in. Your story is so full of memories and learning curves it’s just beautiful, like your photo. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

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  12. macmsue says:

    I wish I had a beautiful photo like yours, mine is a dowdy b&w. I’ve linked my contribution here:
    Thanks for posting the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the tree prompt but recall that I went on and on about some favorite trees for the plant prompt. Maybe I could come up with a couple more stories. Like the “Love Tree” behind my brother’s house. Two trees fused together by a branch; the two enjoined as one. Yes, there’s been a couple of weddings and family photos taken underneath that arch.
    When I went to college the second time I arrived late by bus and had no housing. There was not a room to be had. Fortunately there was a great blue spruce on the campus. Its long branches swept upwards after meeting the ground. After looking around, I lifted up a branch and rolled underneath. My bed was decades worth of needles, so quite cushy. These bottom branches came off the trunk about 4 feet up so it was like being in a tent with the trunk as a center pole. It was quiet and cozy and private. I slept very well and no one walking by the next morning had a clue I was in there. Squirrels and birds woke me, sunlight didn’t penetrate the thick branched walls. I did find a room off campus but was grateful for that tree that night.
    More recently, like last week, there’s a little birch tree growing out of the side of a very steep bank near the top of a small mountain that I am also grateful to, but that’s another story.
    Yeah, I know some trees.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Annecdotist says:

    Sorry you had such an unpleasant introduction to climbing trees.
    I hadn’t seen or heard of a jacaranda until visiting Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, when I was overwhelmed by their beautiful flowers. Although we have a very attractive flowering cherry in the UK I don’t think we have anything comparable.
    I don’t recall trees figuring much in my childhood (apart from those brought into the house at Christmas) although there was a large sycamore in the playground at my primary school (UK, lately and rumour, smalltown). It might have had a bench around it – or I might be imagining that from how I feel it ought to have been!


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  16. susansleggs says:

    Baby Boomer from rural western New York State.
    Currently I look out our family room window and delight at the action of many different kinds of birds that visit the feeders. The Niger seeds and suet hang from a crabapple tree. There is a “fake tree” everyone perches on made from large branches stuck into the hole in a patio table (where the umbrella would go) and a large cedar that wiggles constantly because there are so many sparrows and other birds perched in/on it. Keeping the feeders full is a daily job, but the entertainment is worth every penny the seed costs.
    In the 1950’s and 60’s my parents owned an acre of pine trees that my grandfather had planted to sell for Christmas trees. As the youngest of four girls I can remember going “out to the woods” to cut our Christmas tree. They were not trimmed like today so looked a bit scraggly and were soon to big to be used. Then the trees became the play area for the town children. Both boys and girls had separate forts. Our mother’s would scold us for getting pine pitch on our clothes.
    From my sister Paula… “I think Tilley (our cat) would spy on me when I climbed trees and checked on bird nests. Then they would get robbed!!
    Joanne and I played, for hours, out in the back left corner. There was a pussy willow tree there we cut branches from each year.
    I knew the whole area very well and ventured farther out back, across fields (don’t know who owned them) and on into Uncle Louie’s woods where he had an old sugar shack. On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Snowy Owl. Dee (Our dachshund) would go with me and dig up baby mice and voles, and eat them!
    One warm afternoon, Joanne came looking for me and asked, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?’ I was lying on the ground, watching the clouds float by and listening to birds and bugs singing…… near a pile of fence row trees that had been bulldozed up to make more space for growing crops. Dee loved snooping all through the brush and would chase rabbits, howling as they scooted away, because she couldn’t keep up.”
    Trees have always been an important part of my life, like good friends.
    Thank you Irene for the walk down memory lane.


    • Thanks Susan and Paula for adding your memories. Being able to sit back and watch the birds at close quarters as they feed would be a lovely sight. What is pine pitch?Is it black? I can remember Roger bringing me home some huge pine cones from the golf course and the sap on his skin was like acid and he got some dreadful burns from it. If that is pine pitch I can imagine it wouldn’t do your clothes much good.
      Paula the animals must have shuddered when they saw you coming – birds nests emptied, mice and voles eaten rabbits terrorised. Seriously though it sounds as though you had a wonderful childhood in the great outdoors with all that wildlife around you and dog and cat.
      I agree – trees are important to us in so many different ways and I’m glad I’ve prompted a walk down memory lane for you both.

      Liked by 1 person

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