One of the first things out-of-towners notice when they travel through my neck of the woods…are the trees.
Pine trees are everywhere in Houston. Dense and impenetrable, they line both sides of the streets, a tight-knit in-crowd wary of intruders. Towering above the rooflines, they tickle the heavens with their vibrant green needles as they sway in time with the breeze and condescend a glance down at the passers-by.
Fast-growing, vivacious and proud they quickly steal the hearts of those new to the area. But we locals know that when hurricane winds and torrential rains rip through the woods these pretentious giants will fall because their roots are shallow.
They will fall and be forgotten.
In the near decade I have lived in Houston I have never had a favorite pine tree. They are all so alike that it is difficult to distinguish one pine tree from another and because they grow so fast, pine trees are easily replaced with another sapling after a hurricane takes one out.
But I still remember the trees I grew up with in Central Texas: hardwoods like pecan, oak and black walnut. They held my baby swing, they shed their autumn leaves for me to play in, they made a seat for me to read my book from as I grew older, they provided shade after a hard days’ labor, for family reunions they were first and second base, one summer they offered their branches for a clubhouse.
It wasn’t something extraordinary in their appearance or any one-thing they did that made these trees special and won them a place in my heart–it was their steadfastness.
Though their faces have weathered and altered with age, though tornadoes have twisted their trunks and lightening has stolen some of their branches, many of those trees are still there, waiting for me to return someday and Lord-willing fill their branches once again with my own children and grandchildren.
I look at these magnificent trees, quiet and unassuming and think:
“friends are like trees”.
There are some friends who shoot up quickly in our hearts, who grow thick around you in the warmth of the springtime sun but have shallow roots and will abandon you or fall away when difficult times come and are quickly replaced by another eager young sapling, vying for a stage of sunlight and a place among the up-and-coming.
But the best of friends are those who have been with you through sunshine and rain, springtime and harvest, summer and winter. They are those who have weathered the storms of life beside you and have been faithful and loyal while those with shallow roots were uprooted and fell unnoticed.
The winds of change may blow you apart for a season but you know–no matter what–they’ll still be there, waiting for your return like an old, childhood tree.