I have always loved trees. I remember sitting underneath a great maple tree when I was four years old thinking about God. It was in the backyard of my Uncle’s house next to the fenced off school yard where I would become educated in another language. We had recently immigrated to Canada. The tree in the front yard of our first house was a Kentucky coffee tree. The tree was ill named. Its seeds were poisonous. It wasn’t from Kentucky and no coffee was ever found near it. Apparently it was a rare and protected species The previous owner told us that school children would visit the tree on field trips. It was close to 100 feet tall and stood like the CN Tower on Elgin Street North next to Main but without the scary glass floor .
My father wanted to cut it down to make it resemble his own distinctive looking Croatian bonsai maple trees that make Suzanne shudder in patriotic protest. She thinks that maple trees are sacred and should not be trimmed Vinko and Violet style. In the fall, the Kentucky coffee tree dropped pods and branches that littered the lawn and driveway a foot deep. The debris would be visible in the snow as if to say that the spring will always overtake the winter. The real estate agent did not mention the amount of work the ensuing mess would be to clean up.
During the recent ice storm, braches full of water and flash frozen came crashing down around the house. One branch clipped the eavestrough and slid down the front windows while another took out the corner of the backyard fence. This affirmed my father’s wisdom that one should never buy a house surrounded by huge trees. I am not building a panic room anytime soon.
When we moved to our new neighborhood I noticed a tree in the front yard of a house that would always have coffee cups placed in the hollow space at the base of its trunk. I wasn’t sure whether I should drop some change into them or take them home and return them freshly washed.
For some reason, this image of coffee cups at the base of a tree intrigued me. Who were these coffee drinkers who left their unwashed cups in the snow, sleet, sunshine and rain? Did the cups function as a kind of secret signal; a silent Morse code that could never morph into a blackberry disaster? Were the cups some kind of environmentally friendly beetle trap or perhaps a urine catcher for the neighborhood dogs?
I thought the cups might be a new decorative trend to filter down from Toronto; thought up by bored high-rise dwellers indignant at living in over-priced tiny squares of designer delight. Who will ever know what these cups leaning against each other, propped up at the base of a large tree actually mean. Can the archaeologists of everyday rituals solve the riddle? Whatever the answer, I suggest that the empty cups, decorating the tree, might start a trend that would overtake the kitschy garden gnomes and St. Francis bird feeders that come out in the spring.Tags: children, home, living, new, Toronto, visit, water, work