Joyce Kilmer’s poem ‘Trees‘ comes to mind every time I swim. Before I dunk in the pool I collect dead beetles, dragonflies, and sometimes an unfortunate frog. In the fall and winter I remove leaves . . . thousands of leaves.

My backyard used to host several citrus trees that eventually succumbed to disease or frost. A loquat tree withered from lack of rain.

For years, the live oak in my front yard held climbing children, hid Easter eggs, and dangled piñatas. Branches twinkled with Christmas lights. But eventually, the trunk split. It was removed.

Now, my yard is treeless. But my neighbor’s yards are not.

Now, my property is treeless.

🌳 But my neighbor’s yards are not. 🌳

I like trees. At a preteen slumber party, we played truth or dare. I was challenged to hug a tree. (In the 70s, the term tree-hugger was trendy, but the phrase was coined in 1730!) To fulfill the dare, I enthusiastically embraced a tree and its prickly bark (in my pajamas). Just then, the cutest boy in school rode by on his ten-speed. 🚴🏻‍♂️ I digress.

Trees have a shady side. 🤭 During hurricanes, trees like to jettison their weak and broken limbs. Others lose their grip on the earth and fall on cars, houses, and power lines. Roots of some hardy species cause sidewalks to lift.

Every year, as my neighbor’s trees grow taller, my problem gets worse. Even a slight breeze propels the leaves through the air like confetti.

Each morning, I grasp the long-poled skimmer like a weapon ready for battle. The mesh net fills with nature’s castoffs.

Yesterday, I noticed the neighboring trees sprouting lush spring vegetation to make up for their winter loss. 😩

There is a bright side. Scooping the wayward leaves allows me time to reflect on the Creator and His creation. Squirrels skitter around the massive tree trunks. Birds call to each other as they teeter on thin branches.

With Easter around the corner, I wondered what type of tree was used for the cross. According to Google, it might have been the dogwood, olive wood, pine, cottonwood, possibly cedar or cypress . . . oh, my.

As full branches sway above me, I swim. I contemplate the day and its ultimate blessings and challenges. 

I am learning to find joy in those trees, and sometimes, even the leaves. 🍂🌿🍁🍃

It will take more than leaves to stop me from swimming.

What do you enjoy that also requires extra effort? 


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