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Pond cypress trees await their new owners, at Baton Rouge Green's May the Forest Be With You native Louisiana trees distribution Saturday, May 4, 2019 at the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

“Spring” seems the best name for this time of year, when the miracles of the season tend to uncoil all at once — something for which I’m never quite prepared.

I’ve been thinking about this each morning as I spot our big sycamore just beyond the kitchen window. Our family has lived beneath this sprawling old tree for a quarter of a century now, but its fresh flourish of growth each spring still takes me off guard.

I quietly resolved this year that I wouldn’t be outsmarted again, assigning myself the pleasant chore of watching the tree’s awakening each day from the dull sleep of winter. My attention paid off a few weeks ago when I spotted the first handful of new leaves in the middle of the crown — a little scribble of color, like tiny, tentative fingers extended to the warming sky.

A few more leaves emerged on subsequent mornings, and I assumed the tree’s progress would be incremental like this the rest of month. I had earned for myself the privilege of seeing this canvas slowly fill itself in, each brush stroke registered in my awareness.

But the sycamore had other plans. I woke up one recent morning to see the tree’s canopy completely shrouded in new leaves. The sycamore had apparently found some miraculous momentum, its strange inner mind nudging it to go for broke. My daily life is shaded once again by this broad cloud of green, a presence so startling that I think of it as a front of weather stalled over my roof.

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Spring has brought other gifts. A crew hired by the power company whacked half of our Shumard oak last year to keep its limbs off the utility line. Shocked by the radical surgery, the oak withered in places and looked close to death. But it’s brilliantly green again this month, a testament to how what’s precious can sometimes heal if given enough time.

At my office last month, we gathered outside and planted a pond cypress in honor of those lost to COVID-19, taking turns with two shovels to fill the hole. I was moved to see each of us — the accountant and journalist, webmaster and CEO — tilling the soil in the morning sun. Whatever work we’re called to do, it seems, none of us is very far from the pulse of the planet in the dark, rich earth.

I was happy that we’d picked a pond cypress as our memorial tree. A Louisiana favorite, it’s known for its resilience and steadfastness in high wind, two qualities especially prized in our part of the world.

As Easter arrives this year, there will be no egg hunts on the lawn beneath the sycamore’s sheltering limbs. Our kids are grown now and having their own adventures.

Even so, our treasured tree still points me toward Easter’s ancient promise of renewal. In this anxious year, that counts for everything.


Email Danny Heitman at danny@dannyheitman.com.