I’ve lived in Virginia for decades now. (If you add up the decades I’ve lived in Virginia you will discover that I am somehow much older than I think I am.)
My dad came to visit once. (Which, to be fair, is one time more than my mom, but she had her reasons.)
They lived in North Dakota and I was very excited when my dad decided to fly out.
I had just bought my first place – a condo on the Virginia side of Washington, DC. He came to paint the walls and do the fix-ity things that dads do with their amazing certainty and rightness of purpose that is unique to dads everywhere. Every dad project was a teachable moment, but, really, all I wanted was to make sure the pink walls in the bedroom were painted over.
And, I wanted to show him around and show off my world.
Which didn’t really turn out all that well.
He wasn’t impressed by Washington, its Capitol or White House. He was annoyed by the traffic and all the people. He wasn’t impressed by any of the historic buildings all along our day drives. Blue Ridge Mountains? Sure, OK. He was moderately impressed that the Cuban restaurant offered Philippine beer.
He was truly impressed by only one thing. The trees.
“Damn, kid, I’ve never seen so many trees,” he said as I drove him around.
He said it as if I was somehow responsible for covering up a lot of otherwise good farmland with all these unproductive trees. He wasn’t disappointed. He simply thought it was funny, in the same way he thought a lot of my life choices were “funny”, as in “Well, I would never do that, kid, but it’s your life.”
When he got back to North Dakota, the only thing he told my mom and his friends was that we sure had a lot of trees in Virginia.
He never saw the farm where we ended up.
And, damn, he’s right. We do have a lot of trees.
We have so many trees that I wonder how the sun even reaches the ground some days.
We have three pecan trees. (Yes, they DO grow in Virginia, people, so stop telling me they don’t.)
This Japanese Maple that came as a sapling from Montpelier, James Madison’s home.
And, a Rose of Sharon. (More bush than tree, I guess. I thought it was only a girl’s name in Grapes of Wrath until I moved here.)
The winter did this to one of our magnolias …
I know, I know, they’re not supposed to grow here either.
Is it dead? I don’t know, but look what I found on one of its branches this morning …
Editor/Husband plants trees like many people plant marigolds. This is his “Tree Garden”:
I think I’m much more like my mom than my dad. But, there are a couple things about my dad that carried into me.
My dad loved basketball and football with the same passion that I love baseball. (“You didn’t get baseball from me, kid.”)
He gave me a love of politics and beer. Bad puns, bawdy jokes, and Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons above all others.
And, he loved taking pictures.
He had a couple cameras that were good enough. He would take and develop so many photos that he was probably the reason the little camera store in Devils Lake, North Dakota lasted as long as it did. When my father died a few years ago, I went by the store to tell the owner and he seemed truly sorry. The shop closed not long after and I think the loss of my dad’s business was part of the reason why.
My dad wasn’t a very good photographer, but it made him happy.
He liked to take pictures of tractors …
and, his kid …
Now, come to find out, I carry that gene, too. I’m not a very good photographer, but it makes me happy.
And, it reminds me of my dad.