Money tree

Back in the 1970s, when I was a kid, an old vineyard covered most of the slope behind my parents’ house. At the bottom of the slope, near the edge of the woods, there was a medium-sided red maple with big, spreading limbs where I used to climb and sit by the hour, dreaming of the tree house I would build. Sometimes I lay on the ground underneath the tree, gazing up at the imaginary floors of a several-story structure.

The horizontal part of the lowest limb contained a crack parallel to the ground, about an inch wide and 6-8 inches long, and one spring, on an impulse, I hid a couple of quarters in it. I liked the idea of keeping money in a tree, for some reason. I left it there all summer while birds nested and fledged in other trees and foolhardy hornets dangled their paper cities within easy slingshot range. Sometime in late October, after all the leaves had come down and I was no longer tempted to dream of green rooms, I remembered the coins in the crack.

Thirty years on, long after the last of the grapevines were killed by the burgeoning deer herd and the maple tree died and fell over, I find I have two competing memories about this. In one, I retrieved the coins, which had become a little rusty around the rims, and put them with the rest of my allowance money, to be spent probably on Edgar Rice Burroughs books. In the other, equally plausible memory, the quarters were gone — found by a raccoon, perhaps, or by one of my brothers. One way or the other, I’m sure I never climbed that tree again.
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Remember to send tree-related blog posts to me (bontasaurus [at] yahoo [dot] com, with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line) by the end of the month for inclusion in the next Festival of the Trees.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

7 Comments


  1. This is a great story of a lovely childhood memory, sort of a family fable to pass on…

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  2. find I have two competing memories about this.

    This makes me think of one of Yogi Berra’s lines: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” (Hey, determinism gets boring sometimes! ;-) )

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  3. I was a kid during the sixties and I read all of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I could find, starting with the Tarzan series, then moving on to Pellucidar and Barsoom (great names!). Burroughs contributed to the development of my vocabulary.

    I liked the forked ending of your story!

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  4. marja-leena – Oddly enough, I really hadn’t given it much thought until I went to write it down – a mention of “two coins” in a poem I was reading sparked it. Once written out, yeah, it did seem like a memory (or memories) worth preserving.

    David – Well, you know why Berra said that, don’t you? He lives in Montclair, NJ on a street that bifurcates and then comes back together just before his house. So either fork would take one to the same place. There’s a lesson there, I think.

    Larry – Yeah, the Pellucidar books were my favorites, but I read them all. I gave them away in my early teens, when I became aware of just how goddamn racist the Tarzan books were.

    I thought my spelling of “Burrowes” looked peculiar! Thanks.

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  5. I didn’t know that bit of Berra’s context! He is of course, famous for his offbeat wisdom and mutated proverbs, and I had figured that quote for more of the same.

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  6. Well, people have a tendency to make a bit too much out of some of his utterances, I think, ever since he got that “Yogi” nickname due to his habit of sitting cross-legged. As Berra himself put it, “I didn’t say everything I said.”

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