Sitting at Boston Medical Center for an appointment earlier today I looked up to see a pair of Catalpa trees in full bloom. There’s nothing like a Catalpa tree, whether in bloom or later in the year when giant string bean-like fruits dangle off the branches. It’s a tree that I once promised myself I’d plant, but alas the yard isn’t right for a tree of this size.
When I was in 8th grade my family moved to Chelmsford, Massachusetts to a beautiful old Victorian house with four acres of land. The house had four apple trees and a giant Catalpa tree right in the center of the yard. In front of the Catalpa was a large lawn that we’d play games on. We watched our dog get run over by a neighbor one day while playing kickball. Behind the Catalpa we rigged up a tire swing on a maple tree and would see how high we could go. One of the neighborhood girls whom I had a crush on passed away this year from cancer. We haven’t lived in that house in 34 years and I haven’t seen her since at least then. Funny the things that spark your memories.
Since then those who came after us tore down the old barn and the tack room that were attached to the house. I used to envision converting that barn into a living space. Such are the dreams of a teenager. I had a real connection to that house until I went off to college and our parents divorced. Those who came after us also ripped out the old lilacs that grew along the border with the neighbors. They changed the color of the house back to white. I’m sure they did a lot more than I can see from a drive-by or a virtual Google street view flyby. Whatever, it’s their house now – I just lived there once upon a time. But that time was memorable for a lot of reasons; good and bad. I miss the house but I don’t spend a lot of time pining for the days in Chelmsford. I moved in as a 13 year old, moved out as a 19 year old. So almost my entire teenage years were spent in that house. A lot has happened in 34 years. I’m happy to know that that Catalpa tree is still there, blooming year after year. It’s outlasted a lot of things in its time.