My Love Of Trees
My Love Of Trees
As far as I can remember I’ve always loved trees. As a child, I grew up in Montreal where there were beautiful parks everywhere. We were a hop and a skip away from parks; in the summer all our afternoons were spent there. I used to lay down underneath the Maple trees to watch them sway in the wind from side to side and the leaves looked like pompom's cheering. To those who know me well, I’m considered a tree hugger; funny that years later I was to marry another tree hugger in his own right.
My love of trees stems from my father and his comes from his father. In Italy where he was originally from, he was a cultivator, like his father before him. He worked on his father’s land where he cared for vineyards mainly, there were also fig trees, almond trees, chestnut trees, olive trees and prickly pears (cactus). When Canada opened the immigration doors to Italy, my father decided he would apply. It was a long process, getting all his papers in order; Canada was looking for agriculturers at that time, seemed pretty straightforward. It was 1948, when he left his beloved mother and father behind, promising not to forget them. Forget them he didn't, he sent money back to them until their passing many years later.
He arrived in Canada by ship, and was welcomed by the family that had sponsored him with work. They were looking for people to work on their farm and he was the hand, having guaranteed employment made him feel secure. It was a scary thing to leave your country, not knowing the language, nor knowing the culture. It was the end of summer when he arrived. My father told me he got a chill up his spin and not from the cold, when he arrived at the farm that’s when he realized what he was getting into. He realized quickly that something got lost in translation. He had applied as an agriculturer but there were no vines, no figs, no almonds, no chestnut, no olives or prickly pears here in Canada... there were only POTATOES. In Italy cultivating was different than in Canada, anyway at the farm in Mirabel where he landed up, they picked potatoes, now that family had no fancy machines he and others like him were the manpower. The days were long; all day long he was thinking of how he was going to get out of that situation. By now fall had arrived and it was getting colder day by day, my father didn't see himself doing this much longer, it was very hard work. All day they were to pick potatoes on their knees and fill 50 lb bags. One day he was invited to go to the city and when he saw the city of MONTREAL, his eyes opened wide and he felt hopeful once again. Not long after he found and moved into a one-room apartment, where he lived for the next few years. It didn’t break his heart to leave the farm…there was no garden there in his new dwelling where he rented, so for those years he didn’t plant anything. He found a new job fairly quickly at Dorval Airport and began his new life.
In 1956, he went to Italy where he married my mother; after they married he left her in Italy to come to Canada to prepare a new apartment for them to live together and they were reunited only after 6 months. My parents both worked very hard and after 2 years bought a house. This time he had a garden and did he ever plant. The summers being short in Montreal, it was important to take full advantage of everyday as soon as spring came he would start preparing all the seeds. By mid June the garden was planted. When I was little I used to hide in between the tomato plants and sometimes pick tomatoes, when they were not so ripe, my father was so proud of his accomplishments he would chase after me so I wouldn’t destroy his garden. Being his only child I remember how I got away with everything…
When I was older, my father always kept his love of gardening alive; we planted our tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, the hardier vines and our fruit trees. We had apple (mela), pear (pera), prune (prugna), peach (pescha), apricot (albicocha), and our mulberry tree (gelso). All our trees bared fruit, my father really understood the needs of every tree. He knew when a tree was ill, when it needed vitamins, when there was something wrong with the soil. Friends and family marvelled every time they walked into that paradise he created.
Time slipped away and today my father is no longer, but I live through the love of trees he gave to me. Today in turn I spread my love of trees to my children and hopefully they’ll get something out of it. I’m sure my father didn’t think his passion would affect me so profoundly. He would be happy to see my garden today; he’d give me pointers too. Today I have my own personal collection, my pride and joy, my guava trees! I grew my first tree from seed. It grew strong and tall, honestly I never thought It would give me any fruit but I was wrong, It has given me an abundance of sweet and juicy fruit, with white pulp and yellow skin. I also have apple trees, prune trees, a mini vineyard, multiple blueberry bushes, and raspberry bushes.
Many years have passed and now I’m my father’s age when he shared with me his passion, everything has changed and yet everything is still the same, sometimes when I go for walks on my own land, where I live with my husband and my 2 youngest boys, I’m surrounded by trees, Maples, Oak, Spruce, Evergreens and so much more, and I can’t help but look up and I see those Maple trees swaying in the wind from side to side, and the leaves still look like pompom’s cheering…maybe they were cheering us on all this time.
Image Credit » Photo by Isabella Di Fronzo