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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

May 25, 2008


I look out the windows on the west side of the house and, since our house is elevated above the street below; I can see just a few roofs and lots of trees. At this time of year, I can see six large Jacaranda trees, spreading their lavender umbrellas of flowers. They are so beautiful. They are somewhat dangerous, like most things beautiful. The flowers fall and there is a magnificent carpet of slippery blossoms on the sidewalk below. Mmmm and often laugh about an old friend of the family that used to complain about how “dirty” trees were and he would mumble and grumble about them. I doubt that he had Jacaranda trees in his yard. I think he and his wife were from South Dakota and weren’t used to many trees. People say, “It is a great tree – in a neighbor’s yard.” It is native to South America and has been declared an environmental weed in SW Queensland in Australia. Pasadena’s Del Mar Boulevard is spectacular with its canopy of these lavender/purple trees in bloom. . . . and it blooms twice a year!

I love trees, probably because I spent my first 14 years or so on a dry-land farm in Eastern Montana. The trees there were planted as windbreaks. If one saw trees, one could be pretty sure that there was a house within the parameters of the windbreak or there was a creek or river. On our farm, our father had planted Box Elder trees and Russian Olive trees. The Russian Olives had such lovely gray-green foliage. There were several Box Elders on the farm that were used to support a hammock in the summer time. Of course it was a favorite spot for us. There was also a row of Caragana. That is a shrub-like plant with seeds in a hard pod. I read where it is a member of the pea family and the seeds could be used as food. It is a native of Siberia and was brought by immigrants, probably, to use as food on the long journey – maybe by my very own relatives! We were paid to pick the pods and mother sold the seeds, to whom I don’t know and for what I don’t know. We were also paid to pick potato bugs off of the plants. My sister, Eunice, said that we were paid $1.00 a gallon for the Caragana seeds and my sister, LaVerne, said that we were paid a penny a bug. LaVerne is the youngest – eight years younger than Eunice so I don’t know if wages went up or not.

There was a small house about ½ mile up the road from where we lived on the farm. It was called The Brown Place or the Quinn Place. There were cottonwood trees where the creek would run in the spring. When we moved to Billings, there were lots of huge Cottonwood trees in the yard. They are a type of poplar and they produce big, fluffy bunches of a cotton-like substance in the spring. I can remember my younger sisters and me crying and crying when my parents had some of the trees cut down. We loved the shade and coolness. Of course it was best for the remaining trees and for the property all the way around but we couldn’t understand how someone cut down a tree!

Mmmm and I go out in the yard nearly every day and admire the plums, peaches, grapefruit, orange and lemons on our trees. We look at the red-leafed tree that a neighbor gave us. I don’t know the name but it literally grew when I just put a clipping in the ground. We love the magnolia next door. We love trees so you might think it strange that we had three trees cut down last week. One was a juniper, one was an olive and one was a Podocarpus, or as a neighbor called it, “The dentist tree,” because they are commonly planted next to offices and in small places. They are a Chinese Yew and are often used for bonsai plants. They were planted close to the house and were lifting the foundation and were getting into our plumbing. I didn’t even feel sad. There is a very large evergreen next door that will probably fall on our house some day and is probably getting into our pipes. The fascia has rotted where the trees were so that has to be fixed so I think a tree rose by the front door will satisfy me.

Joyce Kilmer wrote:

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree”

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