This was once a grand poplar; tall and broad, it graced the side yard of my childhood home. I remember my sister and I could clasp our hands together and stretch the expanse of the tree to find our hands could not meet on the other side. The lowest limbs were too tall for us to climb onto from the ground. Our brothers nailed pegs on one side of the tree so we could climb it. We could sit on the lower branches, just below the song of the birds and playful antics of the squirrels, and overlook the houses below our bluff. We peered into the blueness of the sky and fluff of cloud between bits of branches, leaves, and blossoms. We often stared upon the ground, a worn path around the tree surrounded by patches of grass and wild onion, scattered acorn and tufts of hay, and dared whether we were to jump or make our way backward down those pegs. It was our tree and we shared it with all the neighborhood kids. The other trees must have been jealous of all the attention the poplar received. We felt like little queens of the tree.
Forty years have weathered it away. It stopped blooming and the leaves dropped. The limbs grew brittle and one by one snapped to the ground. The bark whittled away and the trunk hollowed. It is a mere shell of what it once was…oh, but the beautiful memories it holds of childhood laughter and years gone by.
Time weathers us all. We are all mere shells of what we once were. We can whither away. Or we can remember the blossoms of youth and spread the fragrance of our experiences. Old or young, whole or broken; we are beautiful in our own way. If you can shake with the wind, do it. If you no longer can, smile and remember when you did.