A youngster born near the border between eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, I imagined all the world resembled mine – green mountains, far as my eyes could see.
Within these mountains lay flatlands Appalachians named “bottoms.” My folks called our home the McCoy Bottom, and our farmhouse the “homeplace.”
My mother’s grandfather, Lark McCoy, had cleared the bottom’s timber for crops and built his homeplace, barn, smokehouse, henhouse, two cabins, and beehives.
Mom’s father Floyd, however, had built his homeplace with a Sears kit on the opposite end of the McCoy Bottom. The roads being too narrow, Sears delivered the shipment via Peter Creek.
A tributary formed by the runoff of rain flowing down mountain hollows, Peter Creek divides the bottom. My grandfather tended his honeybees along his side of the creek, and grew corn on a hillside on the other until his untimely death.
From my earliest memories, Mom would point to the hill where young trees grew and say sadly, “That’s where Dad planted corn.”
My grandfather also grew green apple trees along the path between his homeplace and my great-grandfather’s. The barn with bats in the haymow faced the orchard from the other side of the lane.
Just when I learned to find toeholds in their gnarly trunks, Mom and Dad packed up our household and drove away. The mountains slowly shrunk into flat cornfields that endured throughout the eternal state named Ohio.
After Dad crossed another river and drove into Detroit, I couldn’t believe the straight, paved streets lined with houses and driveways far as my eyes could see. Then he turned his car into one of those driveways and unloaded the trunk.
Feeling sorely homesick for the bosoms of my green mountains, I found consolation sitting under the shade of the one tree in our front yard. Impossibly huge to climb, however.
One school day I cried again to stay home. Mom said, “Iris, you have to go to school. You won’t pass to first grade if you miss much more.”
I walked down the porch steps to the tree and sat beneath it facing the street, out of Mom’s sight from inside the house. I fell asleep and awoke to find bird droppings on my head. Mom led me to the bathroom and scrubbed and rinsed my hair and scalp in angry justification of delivering my discipline.
To my mother’s dismay, the incident encouraged me all the more to climb and sit beneath trees.
The other day when I failed to spy the queens in my three hives, I laid down under a pine to stretch my back and put life in perspective.
My goodness, dear Reader! I wish you could’ve seen what I saw. Under the clear, blue sky and sparkling boughs of the white pine, and the sound of bees restoring order in their home, their queens didn’t matter.
The cool, green grass upon my neck, my Lord whispered, “I will never leave or forsake you.”
All the trees of the world are His.
Contact Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.