Our house was built on former farm land. When we moved here 14 years ago, we had no landscaping. The builder sod in the front yard and seeded the back. It took a couple of seasons before the backyard completely grew in. I remember how naïve we were about the cost of landscaping. We planned to get four trees for the yard and bushes around the deck and front window. We wanted to add some perennials for color, too. Our budget – $1500.00. We spent more than that on the seed that kept washing away in the backyard! Needless to say, we were thrilled when they put in the parkway tree for free.

The city let us choose our tree from a list of 6 or 8 trees that were native to Illinois. We wanted a tree that looked nice in the fall. One of the trees on the list was a Red Maple. It gave us a description of the tree, noting its ability to thrive in any soil and its beautiful red fall foliage. It said it reached a mature height of 60 to 90 feet. It promised to be a wonderful shade tree. They planted the tree a couple months later in the spring. Like most of the trees on our block, it was a sad little sapling that my husband referred to as “the Charlie Brown tree”.

Our oldest daughter celebrated her first Halloween that same year. I made her an M & M costume because it was easy and her initials were MM. We wanted to take pictures in front of the house and my husband suggested that we take them in front of our new tree. He put on a hat and his overcoat and called it a costume. Since he was “dressed up”, he got in the picture with her.

When the picture was developed (no digital camera at this point), he suggested that we take a picture in front of the tree on Halloween every year. As we added children to our family we could watch them all grow along with the tree every year. What a nice tradition!

Every year since then, we have taken a picture with my husband and the kids in front of the tree. The tree might be 15 feet tall at this point and it has been dwarfed by the other trees on the street. I guess they forgot to add “slow growing tree” to the description. Sometimes I wish the kids were slow growing, too.