She continued to flourish, growing longer branches to reach toward the morning sun, and hiding in the late afternoon shade of the nearby mesquite.
And then a storm came in the fall of 2010, with winds so strong that one of the two large limbs of another tree in our yard splintered and fell, crashing into our baby ash. One of her main branches was torn at the trunk. It hung limp, attached by green tendons of branch, eventually drying and falling to the ground.
Winter in Arizona browned the leaves, crisping them with a combination of cold nights and hot daytime sun that dried the tree's open wounds. We circled her in the yard, mourning the loss of one of her fuller branches. Wondering if winter would be her final demise or if she would push forward and thrive again.
Luca and Rohan helped us to water her, holding a hose pulsing with cool water over her trunk and filling the well we'd created with a swell of water to nourish her. They played in the puddle of brown water, watching the soil drink it eagerly and scraping face paint and pretend baby food from the muddy soil.
My house is usually a mess, but my family is happy.
As March began, there was hope on those branches. The first brave leaves unfurled, lime bursts deepening to kelly and emerald. And a winter storm last week dumped a day's worth of cold rain on her leaves and her soil.
And today, standing on a chair so I could get high enough to photograph this tree who used to be shorter than I, this came into view:
I took more photos than is sane, considering I was standing on a chair in my backyard and to the neighbors who could see me I must have looked deranged. But I couldn't help myself; I had to capture the raw and pure beauty of new growth. I took a moment, too, to let my bare feet settled against the soil, feeling how cool the grass that hasn't been cut since sometime in the fall felt against my bare skin.
I am excited for spring and even for summer. I can't wait to unroll the big playpool on the grass and fill it with the hose, watching the kids splash and play. I want to sit for hours in the shade, my feet soaking in the cool water while Luca and Rohan transfer water from plastic cup to dog bowl and back, dipping their faces into the water to eagerly blow bubbles. I want to watch the grass return to green and lie on a freshly mowed lawn letting the scent of grass clippings and new blooms soak into my skin. Luca has requested that we plant purple flowers this year, and I secretly long for a raised garden and sprinklers and long, hot afternoons where we allow ourselves to be pulled off the couch in the cool house and out into a blazing sun. I want to count the freckles as they bloom on the shoulders and arms of my babies, and let them run naked through the backyard, mud webbed between their toes and their laughter like the song of summer's birds.
I know this is going to be a year of much growth and excitement for our family, and I can't think of a single better way to welcome these metamorphases than with the new growth of spring.