The Tree Outside the Window

It’s funny how memories work. My emotional state seems to have more to do with triggering a memory than circumstances, though similar circumstances trigger similar emotional reactions. Eating a madeleine might trigger an involuntary memory, but so might feeling a particular blend of happiness.

Recently, I’ve been comforted by memories from childhood. They are there, ready to be remembered, which makes me think that my new apartment is as comforting as the childhood home I left almost ten years ago. In large part, this has to do with the tree outside my balcony.

Growing up, I would wake from my bed (or, on a school day, be woken by my mother) and open the curtains (or, for most of my childhood, blinds) and see a beautiful tree outside my double windows. Past the tree would be the yard, then the woods, and — past that — the field, which I stopped playing in around the time that I left childhood behind.

I see this tree reflected in the tree outside the balcony. Like the one that grew past my bedroom window, one might see a bird land on this one, or a squirrel scurry through its branches — though I have yet to see the latter.

Sunlight brings more memories.  Perhaps it has to do with the direction and height of the windows in my new place, or the way the light filters through the leaves. Whatever the cause, I’m reminded of sun streaming through autumnal leaves from decades ago, and the memories I made under them. And if I open the slider during a storm, I can hear the rain, which must be one of the most soothing sounds in the universe.

The tree outside my childhood home no longer exists. It lost its life for the sin of growing too close to the house, after a surprise October ice storm made my parents extra-cautious about anything that could fall on their home. I only have the memory of it, and the emotions from long ago reflected in the emotions of today, and that is enough.


Why I Love Snow

This week in Seattle, it snowed.  In Connecticut, the snow would’ve caused delays; in Seattle, it shut down the city.  Even with plows on the road, most businesses aren’t open today.  Heck, even the library is closed!

Before I laugh at Seattle’s lack of experience with snowfall (which includes not plowing residential streets), I have to say that a decent amount of snow fell today. If I knew of a hill around here and had a sled, today would be a great day for sledding.  In college, the lack of a sled would not have been a problem, as food trays and plastic bags wrapped around our bodies substituted rather nicely….until you went over that snow bump that your “friends” put in the middle of the hill to add some “excitement” to the experience.

Growing up in Connecticut, I always welcomed snow, so long as I didn’t have to shovel or snow blow it. I remember snowball fights, snow forts, snowmen, snow angels, sledding, and hot chocolate.  Even when I reached an age where I was expected to help out with the shoveling, there was still the hot chocolate, drunk by the coal stove.

In Seattle, it doesn’t snow often.  It rains.  Cold rain, accompanied by wind. Rain makes everything dark and gloomy, while snow illuminates the ground and sky.  For me, winter without snow just doesn’t feel right.  Snow makes the cold bearable.

It’s funny.  While I always enjoy seeing snow, I enjoyed it less when I had to clear it off my parents’ driveway.  It became easier with the snow blower, but even then, my dad would be the one to wake up early and snow blow it before work; I would only be responsible for it if an early start time were not included.  Here in Seattle, freed from that responsibility, I can once again fully enjoy the sight of snow, welcoming it as I did when young.