Here Stood My Dreaming Tree

When my parents moved me to our second house, I was instantly drawn towards a hundred year old maple tree in the back yard. As the years went by, the tree became my inspiration, my childhood joy, and the one spot I would always run to whenever I needed a good cry. I would often imagine being hugged and comforted by it’s sheltering arms, an imaginary comfort throughout all the times I felt alone.

On various occasions, I would talk to the tree. Ttrusting it with my deepest and darkest secrets, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. A trusted confidant. The ideal listener. A faithful friend that can’t run away. A connection that I knew would always be there, patiently waiting, almost anticipating, if not lovingly commanding my return.

The inspiration the tree selflessly gave me eventually lead me to refer to it as my dreaming tree. As I grew, I would lay in the grass beneath the tree and gaze up into it’s lofty branches. I would dream of how my life and love would be. Sometimes for just a few precious moments, on other occasions, for hours at a time. Remembering my mothers words when I told my parents I wanted to be a writer and my mom encouragingly asking me what I wanted to write about.

As the years went by, I would take shelter from the hot summer sun sitting at the base of the tree and write in my notebook. When I couldn’t get the words to come out, I would take a break from my writing to stand upon the cluster of roots, sometimes walking in circles around the tree, my hand gently dragging against the aged and weathered bark.

As I grew, my childhood dreams we no longer hollow; I fell in love, I found my purpose, I went away in hopes of turning my dreams into reality.

I will never forget the day my mom called me on the phone to let me know that my dreaming tree had died and it needed to be taken down. I begged her to at least leave the stump behind so that I would remember the exact spot where my dreaming tree once stood.

I returned as soon as I could, after the tree was removed, and said to myself, here stood my dreaming tree, staring at the ground covered in fresh sawdust and the lifeless stump surrounded by thriving green grass. Once again I tried to comprehend and visualize what it would look like if it were still there, overcome with emotion as I imagined how the tree had leaned over as it died as if its sheltering arms were reaching out in sadness and sorrow that the young boy had grown and left it behind. The dreaming tree had died and all that was left was nothing more than a figment of my imagination that it was still standing, much like a little ghost for the offering.

I wasn’t there one morning when my father passed away, one February morning. My father dreamed that one day his only child, a son, would be successful, and always insisted that I attend the finer schools to give me the best chance at life. He had kept a childhood drawing I had made of the tree that I so admired, though I will never know for sure if he was ever aware of it’s true significance. I’m sure my father knew how much my dreaming tree meant to me, but of course, he never told me.

The child who grows up an outcast and different is the one who daydreams beneath their own special tree, of castles and kings and fabulous places far far away, who will ultimately go on to be extremely successful at life.

Colophon
The header image came from a previously posted photograph, Here Stood My Dreaming Tree.

Asides
The Fear I Cannot Hide | Belong | It Came Without Warning | Generation Gap | The Changes That I Need | They Came And Wrote Things Down On Paper

53 thoughts on “A Little Ghost For The Offering

  1. Genuinely heartfelt and beautiful, and resonates with me deeply.

    This is honestly brilliant, Thomas.

    I may be a little bias, as I grew up on a farm and had a particular tree in our orchard that was similarly enchanting / enchanted. Many memories. Lots of complexities to them.

    The image is gorgeous aswell, especially with the context.

    1. Very honest and heartfelt, thanks for sharing! I feel like this could be written as a children’s picture-book; the message is a priceless one.

  2. Awhh, wow I really loved that! I’m kind of a tree hugger type, so I almost teared up when you mention the saw dust on the ground… A very emotional piece.

    Since the tree is one of the main characters, I would’ve loved to see more description of it. Obviously, this tree stood out to you for a reason; how is it different from any other 100 year old maple? Any scars? How did it change with the seasons?

    Overall really enjoyed it though! looking forward to reading more of your work!!

        1. I want to say thank you for the feedback. My writing has always had a bit of obscurity/curiosity to it that very few people understand. Most people probably think I’m too different for their tastes, and that’s okay with me.

  3. Your heart shows in all your writing. I could see the tree’s branches reaching out to hold and comfort you. As with my cat, you told it all your secrets, and they were held within the loving bark. Nicely done. Short and powerful. So much meaning within… just as within the tree.

  4. That was beautiful, Thomas. The words were so vivid I could actually see you as a child receiving comfort from the tree and you got older writing under it. My favorite part was when you got stumped in your writing and would walk around the tree with your head gently rubbing against the bark.

    1. Tom your story brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could have stood under your tree I never thought of you as being different but I did think of myself that way. I am glad you had your tree
      Tracy McJunkins

  5. I enjoyed it. you showed a vulnerability&emotion we aren’t accustomed to hearing from men. To me it seemed once you grew up and made a life for urself and were happy and not the outcast anymore ur tree could wither away because it had given wht you needed and u needed it no more

  6. This is a wonderful short story written by Tom Slatin. Take a moment to read and reflect. I do believe it will speak to many of you as it did to me. Tom may be unknown today, but not for long.

  7. What a nice story, it seems to me a fantasy like the accounts but it is a reality, it makes me very sad that the tree of your dreams has aged and your family had to cut it, it is really sad.

  8. Touching story, I do certainly feel that the tree has had an impact on you growing up and has been there with you through your ups and downs. Perhaps now you can think of the tree as a symbol to help you achieve the dreams your heart desires. All the best, Tom! Keep writing.

  9. If I was your father, I would be very proud of the person you have become. Very insightful and talented young man who has helped so many lives both physically and emotionally. I am sure your father is looking at you now wherever he may be shedding a tear in his eye that you are in the path of self-discovery of what your calling may be.

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