Trees and bushes I’ve seen
That’s right. I’ve been on a first name basis with trees and bushes in my day, and I ‘spect some of y’all have, too.
First off in my memory bank is that climbable Pecan tree in our front yard there on the dirt street. I’m talking ‘bout those limbs were in perfect alignment for a boy to climb to the tip top, and I could reach that summit with my eyes closed, but sure as shooting, I’d open ‘em when I reached my goal, so I could survey what might be going on in the neighborhood at that particular moment, whether it was some other boy catching crawdads down at the end of the street, or just watching neighbor girl Jane Drinkard walking around in her front yard, maybe with Linda Holliman or some other gal joining her.
But that was not the only great thing about that particular tree, in addition to producing some mighty fine pecans. We had a swing hooked up to a lower hanging straight limb, and that was a cool place to relax a bit, especially when the family decided to “eat out.” To us, eating out was moving Ma’s fine cooking under the Pecan tree, and after Daddy asked the blessing, just flat out enjoying that eating together, and waving to the few folks who might ride by in an automobile for no particular reason.
On the north side of our home place was one sho nuff big ol’ oak tree, and there was a fine limb way up from the ground. There was a thick grass rope we got around that limb, and at the end of the rope was a hobo swing. (Used tire was what it was). There would be some high time swinging, and as I think back on it, what I wouldn’t give to be able to once more climb that rope hand over hand all the way to the limb.
Then, there were a bunch of climbable oak trees in the back, and there were various height little tree houses or simply maybe a tree platform or two, depending on the skill and courage of the boy who built any one of those structures to sit in, and survey that particular area of the world.
Goodness we had a bunch of those pesky Mimosa trees popping up all over the place. Seems like no sooner than Daddy would have me cut one down, three more would pop up, and that’s enough about Mimosas for today.
Now, let’s move on to a bush or two I knew. First off was a Pyracantha bush up at the top side of the side yard where we boys played a many a football game. That Pyracantha had some pretty red berries Ma liked to snip and put in a vase, but it also had some mean and dangerous thorns sticking out all over, and those thorns were especially deadly to an inflated football that got kicked or pitched into that menacing bush, to say nothing of the bare arms of one of us foolish enough to try to rescue that ball. Ma finally had me chop that thing down, and I remember what pleasure that chore gave me, although as I recollect, that bush got in a few pretty nasty jabs at me during the process.
On the other side of the bush coin was that sweet smelling Wisteria with the purple flowers hanging down like grapes. Finding and catching June Bugs was never all that easy around our place for some reason or ‘nother, but that Wisteria bush drew Bumble bees by the drove. We had to be pretty keen-eyed to distinguish the difference between a white headed bee and a black headed one if we were figuring on catching it bare handed, and tying a thread around one leg so that bee could buzz about just like a June Bug. The reason for that was on account of the black headed buzzer had a long, hurtful stinger on the other end, but the white headed one had no stinger, although if you held that white headed bugger long enough, he’d start to bore a hole in your hand with his chewing mouth, like they would do on wood rafters.
Wish I had room to talk a bunch about our China Berry tree from which we gathered ammunition for sling shots and poking down the barrel of a BB gun, but you’ll just have to use your imagination if you didn’t have your own China Berry tree.
— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.
(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, February 20 issue of the Demopolis Times.)