Today, I had a moment – well, actually, I had a couple of them – while walking around the campus.
When I was a little girl, my Grandpa Vic and Grandma Faye lived in Rose Park, a suburb of Salt Lake City. They lived in the same home on Signora Drive for over 50 years and every home on their street, when they had been built, had each received two trees from the city to plant in their parking strip. These trees are called Gleditsia triacanthos inermis, aka Thornless Honeylocust or Honeylocust and became popular in the early 1940’s as suburbia was trying to take root. They grow to be massive giants and in the fall, their leaves turn vivid yellow. However, it isn’t all this that makes them unique. It’s the seed pods that are a favorite for most children (although, the adults loathed them).
I remember, as a child, waiting for autumn and knowing that the next time we visited Grandma and Grandpa, I would be able to find seed pods all over the ground. They get hard, dry and woody, but they have many little seeds inside so when you shake them, they sound like a maraca.
When we’d turn onto the street, I’d be breathless with wonder as I gazed at the yellowing canopy that cast the entire street into a blaze of golden delight. At times, I thought it was a wonderland or, perhaps, what a wonderland would look like were I the creator of such a magnificent place.
I remember the day Grandpa contracted to have those “messy beasts” cut down and removed from his front yard. I remember feeling betrayed and when we pulled up to the now bare, stark and not-so-warm front yard shortly thereafter, I felt disoriented. I missed the giants that I had grown up with. I missed the sound of the rustling leaves beneath my feet. And, mostly, I missed those seed pods.
Grandpa, however, reveled in the knowing that he would never have to rake another one of those minute yellow leaves or collect garbage bag upon heavy garbage bag of the seemingly unending supply of dark brown seed pods that grew to be almost as long as my arm.
Today, as I walked through the campus, I realized that it is bedecked with Thornless Honeylocust trees along the sidewalks! It was raining and I was enjoying the feeling of the icy droplets upon my head. I turned my chin to the sky to feel the sting of them upon my cheeks and discovered, lo and behold, “Shaker Trees,” as I had called them as a little girl! Then, I glanced at the ground hopefully and found, much to my delight, Shakers everywhere upon the grass, the sidewalk and the decorative mounds.
Suddenly, I was four years old and life was gentle again.
All because of these: