It's a well-known fact that I'm a tree-hugger. Living in the middle of a forest, we love our trees. OK, sometimes I curse them a little bit when I wish I could grow spectacular David Austin roses, because our garden is too shady for lush blooms. But mostly, we mourn when we need to remove a sickly tree or if we lose one to a storm.
We're usually quick to reforest, however, planting a new tree or nurturing a rogue seedling to take its place.
So, thirteen years ago when our daughter arrived, we celebrated by planting a birthday tree for her.
It's one of the happiest decisions we've made.
Not only is it a lovely tree, but it serves as a permanent record of her growth.
While I appreciate the cherry tree's lovely pale blush blossoms, I adore it most for its ability to keep even a teenager playful. So often, we still find her climbing her tree, sitting in the branches, just like when she was a tiny little thing.
Only now, she's texting friends or reading Fan Fiction while nestled in her tree.
She's growing up, plotting how to coerce Peter into giving her a horse in exchange for eschewing boys. She's already searched colleges online, finding the perfect school that offers both pre-vet and an equestrian team.
I've told her to slow down.
After all, too soon she'll be off into the big world. We won't always have the chance to celebrate birthdays together.
But until she leaves the nest, our birthday ritual will continue.
And, no matter where her future takes her, we'll always have the photos of Kristen and her birthday tree.