Trees in my life

cherry tree (3)I visit Falticeni, the small town in Northern Romania where I was born, at least twice a year. This spring, however, I have stayed a whole week and I have taken some long walks to those places that bring sweet memories of my beautiful childhood back to me.

The first stop was in the neighborhood where my grandparents used to live. The flat where I spent a significan part of my first 10 years of life was placed on the last floor within a four-level brick block. I took a quick look where their balcony used to be but now modern window frames were glittering defiantly. But generally speaking, nothing much has changed since I left the area. Instead, something else happened: trees had disappeared.

My magic trees that gave me thrilling, happy moments when I was a small girl, were cut down for making space to cars which needed parking spots. Or for building useless constructions.

My chestnut tree is not there anymore…

In the era when computers and Internet were still science fiction, kids used to have loads of fun when chestnuts were falling down, in autumn. I cannot explain why we felt such a pleasure in looking for the brown, shiny fruits on the ground. They were not even comestible. We had real competitions between us: who was able to find more chestnuts became the coolest kid of the neighborhood for one whole day. We even used them as trade instruments: give me three chestnuts for one Turbo gum.

My evergreen tree is not there anymore…

In front of my grandparents’ block, there was a tall, robust evergreen tree. I used, as a little girl, to go on the balcony and watch the birds that were sitting majestically on the green, strong branches: pigeons, swallows, sparrows, crows, woodpeckers, blackbirds. I remember one night, with clear sky and big, bossy moon, that I was looking at an arrogant owl for at least 30 minutes. I was fascinated by the beautiful bird and intimidated at the same time by its aloofness. This tree was my friend. While I was playing Hide and Seek with the kids or Shoot and Kill – yes, I had a period when my favorite toys were revolvers and my friends were all boys – its trunk was my shelter and my armor. After some years, I used to dream I’m a bird that flies up into the grey, heavy sky. When my wings got tired and my small body started to tremble, my stop was always my beloved tree. It opened its green arms for embrace me and allay my fears and pain.

My cherry tree disappeared, too…

It was not my cherry tree. It was private property, belonging to some old man, grumpy, unfriendly, telling kids to stop yelling and playing in front of his yard. We didn’t love him too much, we used to gossip about him and invent stories in which he was a monster that locked kids in his house for eating their eyes and heart. But we really loved his cherry tree, with its juicy, sweet, red fruits. The bravest boys used to climb the wooden fence and jump directly in the tree, grabbing greedily the small fruits and put them in their t-shirts, used now as a bowl. They didn’t care about gloomy legends of the old man anymore. The flavor of cherries tickling their insatiable nostrils won the battle with fear. And what a joy for all of us, the girls, waiting to receive from naive boys a part of their prize.

My walnut was replaced by an abandoned cafe bar…

I recall that, at the beginning of autumn, all children in the neighborhood were starting to hover around the vigorous walnut that guarded a small mulberry tree park. At that particular time of year, its fruits were still in the green shell, so the biggest challenge was to take the nut out without getting our hands yellow-brown – a color which stays on the skin for several days. After taking the nut out from the shell, we had to open the second carapace to reach its amazing kernel. In early September, the kernel has a thin peel that has to be removed carefully. The peeled fruit is white and softer than a mature nut. Of course, it’s very tasty. Every discovered nut was a victory for us, and the taste was ten times more intense, cause we were sweating for that tiny kernel. Shall I mention that we had competitions, fights, negotiations over our nuts stock and even bets? But all in all, we used to eat, for one week, tens of nuts and our hands were, for 2 weeks, dirty as hell.

Falticeni has lost many trees. Not only those who were part of my early stage of life. It’s like a man who is getting bald. Less green, with fewer shady spots where you can hide from the burning sun. Kids will remember parking spots, not glorious evergreen trees where they can find their shelter during Hide and Seek game.

One comment

  1. Anda · April 29, 2015

    Growing up is always tough…time passing is tough.


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