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Tree Stories

We're inviting you to share your tree story.
Tree stories posted by Dec. 17 were entered into a contest.
After Dec. 18 you can post your story just for fun!

Read, comment or add your own tree story on Facebook >

Tree Story Contest
CONTEST WINNERS WERE CHOSEN RANDOMLY.
Only one entry per person. Submission of multiple stories does not increase odds of winning. Tree Story contest rules >

Winners:

  • First Place: Sheri Karanasos
  • Second Place: Rachel Trueblood
  • Third Place: Lisa Marie Wenwood

TREE STORIES

Submitted by Amy McDonald
As a child trees were my haven. I would stretch and jump to reach branches and pull myself up to the reward of being on top. At the top of a tree your neighborhood looks different, like you just conquered it. It sounds different, like you are one with it. One summer a Jay made her nest in my favorite tree. I was happy to share, but she was having none of that nonsense. So I accepted defeat and left the tree alone. The following spring I was determined to establish the tree as mine. But when I reached for the branches, I didn't even have to stretch. The challenge and exhilaration were gone. I had grown taller. The tree that once was a great quest was now too small. And at that moment I realized my childhood was over.


Submitted by Jennifer Chushcoff

"True North"

We are not only stars, love,
but the very earth
spinning beneath our feet.
The young, sharp-edged,
glacial peaks, the humble nursery
of oak and mushroom, moss and lichen,
where humans neglect to tread.

It’s true, these atoms of ours navigate
the light-pricked, indigo sky,
strewn by gods and goddesses,
triangulated by stories of ancient myth.

Their heroes and monsters hold
the course for Homer, Cook and all those in-between,
as ships turn wheel and rudder,
armadas cross the deep and quiet graves.

The Rose cannot help, but charm the arrow north
and we know, the ground is sacred.
The Iiquid iron circulates,
breathes a living line, unhinged from Earth’s own
geography, where tattered flags
hang
in snow ghost prairies.

All life roots in earth,
grown in ancestral soil.
By now, it is all bone and blood,
all bone and blood.
We are vessels of immortality.

We gather and distribute, like trees in autumn,
caught in a wind.
Too many goodbyes to grieve,
only gratitude for this
singular shared beauty.
Gratitude.
The heart so full, it has no words.
This is as it should be.

Before we close our eyes to sleep,
think of the stars, the miles they travel
to bring you light, to lead the way.
Think of the suns in galaxies
you cannot see,
and the quiet white mushroom
stretching,
the sun flexing its gills.

They breathe the world
alongside us.
We are in each filament,
the stalk and cap.
We are in the trunk
of the mighty oak, in each leaf
waving this fresh-born day
forward.


Submitted by Bev Jackson:
I grew up in the Midwest, where the forests were filled with hardwood and softwood trees. City streets were lined with grand deciduous trees that formed a canopy of shade in summer and vibrant colors in autumn. The fallen leaves created a crunchy carpet underfoot, and we all enjoyed kicking through them. Homeowners raked the leaves into large piles, and we kids would joyfully jump into them with shouts of joy. Then came the bonfires, filling the air with the distinctive aroma of autumn.

When I married and moved to Washington State in 1969, I noticed right away the difference in the trees. Here, there were more tall evergreens, and fewer residential streets lined with mature deciduous trees. I missed kicking the leaves; I would even “import” them from an empty lot near our house, so our pre-school daughter and her friends could play in them. One sunny autumn day, my husband and I took our daughter to Wright Park. Much to our surprise and delight, the groundskeepers had raked all the leaves in the arboretum into one HUGE pile! Enthusiastic kids of all ages were leaping into the pile, with leaves flying about and voices full of glee. We joined them, and had a fun and memorable day. I don’t know if this big leaf pile project still occurs, but I so appreciated the chance to relive a happy childhood memory and to share it with our daughter. Thanks, Wright Park!


Submitted by Clifton Manning
There's a tree along the promenade near the marina that normally has an eagle in it. Sometimes there's a gray heron nearby. I'm always looking in the tree's for critters never know what you'll find even a bicycle.


Submitted by Steve Markle
In 1991, a friend had invited us to visit them in Puyallup. So in October, we came up. We were in awe of all the trees and the smell of Christmas Trees everywhere. We had taken a drive down Meridian to Eatonville and we remember the tree lined highway and knew we had to move here from Los Angeles. The following December, we were all moved in to our new home in Buckley, WA. We couldn't get over the smell of all the trees. We have no plans to ever leave this state and it's trees!


undefinedSubmitted by Janet Clanton
I was born in Tacoma, and grew up in the North end.
Our family has always enjoyed driving through the 5 mi. drive.
It never gets old,and I think that I have been through it thousands of times.
Ever since I was a little girl,it is our tradition to stop at The Mountaineer Tree.
We also call it "The Hugging Tree".
We call it that,because we always hug it!
I feel the presence of family members that are no longer with us, when I stop and put my hands against it's ancient bark.
I have a great granddaughter now and we will continue the tradition with her.
So when I am gone she will feel my spirit when she hugs the tree.
I know that,that tree has a spirit as well.
I will always hug it with my heart.


Submitted by Linda Hegedus

DOUGLAS THE TREE

Picture this. Christmas Eve and it's getting dark. A bitter wind is blowing. The Christmas tree lot is getting ready to close. The only one left, I've been tossed onto the gravel like an old tin can. Me! A fine Douglas fir chopped down in the prime of my life when I flaunted my sweet smelling branches lush with needles. Unloved and abandoned, I'm just a worthless piece of wood destined for the yard waste bin. Gone is my hope for adoption.

But wait, what's this? A man with a little girl wandered onto the lot. He said to her "Now I know that sometimes they give away the last of the trees this close to Christmas. Since I can't buy any presents this year, we'll need to make this tree a special tree." Then they noticed me on the ground with my branches dried up and brittle and needles dropping off like fleas off a dog. A pitiful excuse for a tree if you want my opinion!

Well, the lot owner said "You can just take that little tree off my hands. I'm getting ready to shut down anyway. They say it's called a Douglas fir." The man agreed to take it. The little girl decided to call her special tree "Douglas" since it seemed a rather important name for a tree.

Wow! I couldn't believe my luck but we did still have a long walk home. The streets were icy and lined with frozen piles of snow. It was late and everyone was tired but they dragged my down the streets bumping me up and down over the curbs so I lost even more needles. When we got home, the little girl blew on her hands and stomped her feet to get warm. Her dad propped me up in a pan of water. He had only one little string of lights which he wrapped around me. The little girl carefully draped tinsel on me and then she turned off the ceiling lights.

I was transformed! I twinkled and sparkled like a newborn star. My branches felt strong and bushy. My needles were soft and flexible. The warmth of the holiday lights awoke my fragrance which filled the room.

That little girl gazed up at me and smiled. That was my gift to her. That is what a Douglas tree does for little girls. That is why there are Douglas trees.

That little girl? That was me.


Submitted by Maria Smyerman
When I was young, I remembered that my mom redeemed a tree through a Lucky Charms cereal box promotion. She planted it in the garden I we had in the front of the house and I remembered how tiny it was. A couple years passed and the tree grew a little bit and I I thought that was so cool. Then we ended up moving away and 4 years later, I revisited our old home and felt so happy inside because not only was it still there, but it was nice to see how big the tree had grown.


Submitted by Charlene Brown
My love of trees started when I was very young. I would seek out the biggest trees and climb my way to the very top every chance I could. As a child i was abused in many ways and suffered from high anxiety and major depression. I found solace in climbing trees. I had a favorite tree right in my backyard. It was so tall and beautiful and when I reached the top I felt like an eagle. I could see so far in every direction and it was amazing. I would also climb the trees in many metro parks. Climbing trees helped me just getaway and really appreciate nature and it also helped me cope with my life at the time. It was quiet and peaceful and the most beautiful views I'd ever seen. I also loved to climb in the sound garden at Point Defiance. Trees are pretty special to my life and they were my safe place.


Submitted by Karla Kluge
My favorite tree was a HUGE weeping willow that my Dad planted in our backyard when I was just a wee one. He was amazed and thrilled that with only a thrust he could “plant” a willow stick and it would grow without any other help. Planting it in Minnesota near a big cornfield that was irrigated didn’t hurt either. He liked it so much; he planted two sticks and watched them grow along with his children. And, boy did they grow.
Those trees kept growing until they towered over me and my little brothers. I loved to climb the biggest tree. It had the perfect number of branches spaced evenly and perfect for my little 7-year old arms to climb. And once I climbed to the top and realized what I could see, I was hooked. I could see all across the immense corn field surrounding our house to the forest on the other side. Our house was in a nook between forest, corn fields and few neighbors. Few little girls my age were close by so I found solace in the top of that Willow Tree where I watched the world go by. I built a pulley system with a bucket on the end so Mom could send up sandwiches and cool-aid, and popsicles in the summertime when it was hot. Windy days were especially wonderful. The Willow would sway and bend and I could ride the top branches like a swing. Usually, the ride was very short on those windy days as Mom would come running out demanding that I “come down outta that darn tree before I fall on my head!”
My little brothers always had each other and they would run around and play under the tree. I could watch them unobserved and scare them later with “things I just knew because I was the oldest”. You see, they would talk and plan and scheme about getting their big sister or telling some secret, or sneaking off somewhere and I would “just know” all about it. I loved the look on their faces when I would tell them something I shouldn’t know. No one should know. How did I know they wondered?
One time, my littlest brother Kory and his friend were playing in the corn field when one of them disturbed a ground wasp nest. I was watching the two of them when all of a sudden they came racing out of the corn field with a dark cloud following them, right under the tree, and into the house. I was high enough that the hornets did not sense me and fortunately didn’t bother me; they raced right by me underneath the tree after the two boys. I heard a lot of hollering in the house because a couple of hornets got into the house and my Mom’s best friend who was visiting had screamed one was in her shirt. Next thing you know, she rips off the shirt and starts running around our house. The boys started laughing. I stayed up in that tree a long time to be sure the coast was clear before I walked into the house. There was a lot of excitement watching the world from the tree.
Scenes like a movie passed underneath me when I was in the tree. I became such a climber as I grew that I started to try out other trees. My Mom even got in the habit of calling the neighbors with big trees when she was looking for me and asking “Is Karla in your tree?” They’d usually laugh and say “yes, Betty, she’s up there” and Mom would say “tell her to get out of that darn tree and come home!” And, I would go home reluctantly…and climb right up the big willow and stay there until dark.


Submitted by Eileen Cahill
Thinking about trees this morning, loving how our Autumn has played out so far, with gorgeous colors and crunchy fallen leaves to kick-walk through while out and about our Parks. Thought I'd mention a book I've had since my kids were little - many years ago - bought at a school book fair. It's called "Have You Seen Trees?" by Joanne Oppenheim and beautifully illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng. It's a poem/picture book, and I think I bought it more for me that whichever kid was in grade school at the time. I still love reading it aloud!

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Submitted by Lisa Marie Wenwood
Tree stories. Trees trap cats. We had one particular cat that got stuck in a tree a couple times. He is a cute cat but not a smart cat. He scaled a huge tall skinny tree when he was a kitten and was up there for days. We had to get a cherry picker to come and rescue him. (Apparently the fire station doesn't do that kind of thing) A photo of the rescue was in the local paper... I am from a small town. ... He then attempted to scale another beastly tree. We nailed a few boards up to that oak tree. I am Not sure if that was a preventive measure or a reaction to his feat of athleticism.

I love trees. I have many good memories of climbing trees with my sister ( and not just when we had to rescue our cat)


Submitted by Sheri Karanasos
Have you ever heard a tree fall in the forest? I did. I had gone for a late night run at Pt. Defiance through the forest. When I got back to my car parked at the zoo I realized I locked myself out of my car. While I was sitting there waiting for my boyfriend to bring me a key it was so peacefully quiet. The lot was empty and it was dusk. You could see the shadows of the deer. Then out of nowhere I heard it. It was a large crack and TIMBER! Down it went! It was actually the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. No wind, it just fell. I’ll never forget it.

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Submitted by Janet Higbee-Robinson

Trees of Tacoma

Sentinels standing tall for the old and clean world,
We know the wind because you give it voice.
We breathe refreshed air because you clean it.
We require you to filter our filthy waters, unacknowledged.
We see stability because you stood or would stand a hundred, even a thousand years,
Just as you are, silently protesting for the rights of eagles to nest; chickadees to gather;
Emperor butterflies to pollinate; lichen to grasp and paint; fungi to feed on your sugars; deer to rest; squirrels to glide; predators to pursue; and children to climb, if protective adults allow.
When another unjust day dawns, you will make sense, Tsuga, Pseudotsuga, Abies and Thuja, Arbutus, Alnus and Quercus…

At Seeley Park, a family of Oaks rounds up behind the department stores on the shores of the lake.

South Park holds a mighty and verdant grove of Douglas Fir, a Sycamore, a Redwood, and a cluster of Oak that ushers walkers and cyclists near the dead at the neighboring cemetery.

Giants of Lincoln Park, the Ruby Beeches, turn golden upon approach, white trunks rising, charcoal roots raising the earth. A garden of Goliaths, they befriend Sycamores, Big Leaf Maples, other Beeches, Oaks, Elms and a single Redwood. Every sort of Maple lifts its palms. Locusts fold their leaves, prayer embodied.

In Wright Park, Elms, beloved and expansive shade givers, succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease some decades ago, but a Rock Elm from 1895 prevails, hard and knot free. Tacoma’s arboretum of Oak, Hickory, Maple, Ash, Magnolia, Birch, Cypress, Chestnut, Sequoia and Tulip, are tended by Mark McDonough, Urban Forester. Mark is an instrument that links earth and sky, in the way of the trees he serves.

The Willow in my yard blocks traffic, grows like an irrational hope, right before my eyes, into power lines, beyond its rocky borders. Each spring, I bring into my home, a branch or two of its pussy blossoms. I am enchanted by increasing light and yellow Willow dust on my table.

And in a secret place that never became a road, Cottonwoods rustle and Locusts loom among Rhododendrons, not knowing that they are seldom seen by human eyes, while surrounded by urban sprawl.

A family playing with patches of light along a long corridor, the Titlow Oaks cheer for the Titlow Poplars that point at the heavens and edge the park.

Two Point Defiance Yews stoop along the shore, hiding under Alder. Their gnarly limbs, bearing cancer remedies, stretch toward the Salish Sea, wishing…

Everywhere Madrone grows twisted, bending and peeling, while now and then Cedars dance, draped in wispy robes, befitting some Scherezade.

Douglas Firs try to create a forest along Highway 16 between Snake and China Lakes. Among them, cordial Hemlocks, tipping their hats, call to us Homo sapiens to look back at what was good, to see now to the planting that must occur, to give seedlings their rightful place among us and into the future, at least seven generations, as the original peoples declared fitting.

May Tacoma’s trees outlive us and teach us to protect life!


Submitted by Rachel Trueblood
My love of trees started at an early age when my older sister and I used to climb the one in front of our house. There was the perfect branch to hang on and grasp to lift ourselves up into the tree. Then we would each find a spot among the other thick branches to sit and laugh.


Submitted by Ann O'Neill
My story is 30 years in the making, and by telling it I might just get in trouble with the Forest Service. However, the tree is still alive (see photo) and I hope all will be forgiven....When the kids were young we would get our Christmas trees through the permit process with the Forest Service. I think the permit cost $5.00. We would make a day of it, pack to play in the snow, bring wood for a fire, hot chocolate and emergency gear including a shovel. Heading towards Mount Rainier, we would stop in Ashford to pick up the permit and the map. These permits were for cutting down a tree, tagging it, and bringing it home for your Christmas tree. And that was the plan, however when we got out to the site we fell in love with this little 3 foot tree. It was full needled, a beautiful shade of green and smelled like heaven. (we later learned the tree was a Pacific Silver Fir and they have a citrus scent). Everyone wanted the tree, but no one wanted to cut it down. So we came up with a plan to dig it up and bring it home. We tagged it just like you would a cut tree and brought it home. It was potted up once we got home and was our live Christmas tree that year. After the Holidays the tree was planted in the landscape island in our driveway. When you approach the house it is one of the first things you see down our drive. The tree as thrived. For a number of years it was decorated with lights until it got too tall. I've seen many birds nests in it's branches and this past year a squirrel nest has appeared. The tree is picture perfect and has graced many a home made Christmas card. When the bottom branches reached out too far in the drive and had to be cut, I used them in wreaths(see photo) that were sold at the Proctor Farmers Market and so graced many a door in the Proctor area. This tree has brought much joy to many people and I thought it's story should be told. A big thank-you to Point Defiance for setting up this platform to do so.

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Submitted by Emily Roberts
It was Arbor Day of 1995 in Morristown, Tennessee that would change the course of my life. I had a fantastic teacher named Mrs. Tullock for the third grade at Manley Elementary School. Mrs. Tullock always celebrated Arbor Day with her students. Every year she would have them paint a picture of what Arbor Day means to them. Trees always interested me, and I looked forward to being in Mrs. Tullock’s class for Arbor Day. When it came time for the annual tree art, I painted a tree growing out of our planet Earth. We hung our paintings in the school lobby for all to see. But, this year she did something additional to celebrate trees on their day. She called upon the Arbor Day Foundation to donate one tree to each student in her class. The trees that were given to her third grade class in 1995 were tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera), which are native to East Tennessee. I happily accepted my bare root tree and brought it home with great enthusiasm and eagerness to get to planting. But, my parents said we should put it in the refrigerator and wait a couple days so we could decide the best place to plant this gifted tree. I wanted to look at it every day and we spent most of our time in the kitchen. Dad said that we couldn’t plant it too close to the patio so the roots would have room to spread out underground. I didn’t want my brother to run over it with the lawn mower, so Mom suggested we get a small fence to place around it for protection. The sapling was only about 18” tall. The day finally arrived when we could plant the tree! I dug the hole, watered the hole, placed the tree in the hole, watered the tree, and filled the hole back up with dirt. Knowing what I know now, I didn’t follow perfect planting techniques, but I got pretty close. I settled the fence down in the dirt around it. I watered the tree often. I cared deeply for this tree. As the sapling grew, so did my passion for these amazing organisms that tower above us in our natural world.
As my interest in trees grew from watching this sapling become a maturing tree, I began to explore the forest more and more. I began to have many tree curiosities. “Why does this tree grow taller than that one? Why is the bark so thick on this tree, and thin on that tree? Why are the leaves shaped so differently on different trees? Wow, even some trees have different shaped leaves on the same tree, how come?” My family went camping from time to time at Panther Creek State Park. The interpretive ranger at the park would lead hikes teaching us about trees, fungus that glows in the dark, birds, and other amazing wonders. My brother and I spent many evenings playing in the forest adjacent to the house we grew up. We were exploring our tree community.
I studied trees as much as I could through a biology major at Carson-Newman College, as we did not have a forestry major. Upon graduation in 2008, I began my career with trees in the United States Forest Service in Idaho. I have been working with trees for the past nine years. I became an ISA Certified Arborist in 2015. Now, I own a tree care business in Olympia. I have dedicated my business to helping trees thrive, and facilitating a cohabitation of people and trees. If it weren’t for an amazing third grade teacher that gave me a tree to plant when I was nine years old, I may not be doing the work I do now or live a life so passionately dedicated to the wonderful trees that provide so many benefits to us as humans, our environment, and our earth.


Submitted by John Horton Houck
This tree lives in our backyard. It is why we named our "estate" Crooked Tree Cottage!

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Submitted by Esther Freeman
As a student in Recreation and Park Management I took a weekend class on Outdoor Recreation -- Dr. Phyllis Ford was the instructor. She had us do a variety of exercises while we were out in the forest. The most memorable of all was to be led on a rope out into the woods. We were blindfolded and dropped off at different trees in a random order. Wet were given about five to ten minutes to memorize our tree while remaining blindfolded, then picked up again to come back to a central point. Blindfolds off we were sent back to find our tree. 100% of the class participants were able to find their tree...which in 20 years Dr. Ford said she'd only had one person not be able to do so.

As a hiker, backpacker, and a girl from a very small timber community trees have always been important. You might hang your food in them when in bear country; you might lean against it to rest; you might build your home from trees; you might be a woodworker who enjoys the grain of wood; and for me I especially have always enjoyed the many fall colors -- especially dogwood and vine maple. All nurture the heart and provide us fresh oxygen.


Submitted by Heidi Wink Schooley
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, there was no shortage of trees to seek shade under, rest against, hide behind, read beneath, watch birds nest in or see countless animals climb. For me, trees seemed a place of adventure and solace - they were a great escape (from what, I'm not certain).

There was a particular tree in my backyard I found enchanting. The trunk's bark was smooth to the touch, the branches like long arms reaching out as if to welcome me - each of them spaced as if a spiral staircase. The lowest branch was just within reach for my arms to grasp and pull my remaining weight.

It was this tree that served as sanctuary for me during playtime. I climbed high (or what seemed high at my young age and small stature) among the branches and read in that tree for hours. I lazed on a branch in Spring and Summer seasons, listening to leaves whisper in the breeze, enjoying the view of my neighborhood and yard from that vantage point. I lovingly lugged countless stuffed animals to join me for play there. And I'm nearly certain I brought our cat along with me a time or two, as well.

Whatever the circumstances, that tree always beckoned. It brought me joy and peace. It felt like it was made just for me.


Submitted by Eileen Cahill
When I was little my father would take me and my siblings to “The Woods” for walks on Sunday afternoon. That was in New England – The Lynn Woods Reservation. I’ve had that love of being out in Nature ever since.

My story takes place in Forest Park in Portland. It was the Sunday after the 9/11 attacks had happened. I went with my children to walk in the calming presence of trees and Nature. The people we encountered in the Forest that day were as subdued as we were. It was as if we had all come for some escape, some peace. And it felt as if we were in a Cathedral; a Cathedral of Trees.
I experienced an overwhelming feeling that the trees were puzzled. They were sensing the collective angst of the humans walking among them. And they didn’t know why these people were in such a state, but they surely took note. And the sound of the high breezes through the tree tops offered a small bit of comfort to us below. Those trees were offering support and maybe condolences through their very presence. It was a welcome gesture from these co-inhabitants of Nature. I’m grateful for the trees, grateful for The Forest.

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Submitted by Shari Hart
My childhood was deeply enriched by the ancient maples that surrounded our farmhouse. The road I grew up on is still a dirt road and acres separated us from our nearest neighbors.
With my mom at work, my sister and I were often left to our own entertainment. Some days the trees were our favorite playmates; whether climbing the trees, swinging on the rope swing tethered to one of the "guardians" along our driveway, or jumping in piles of crisp leaves, we had hours and hours of tree fun.
Even as I became a teenager, my first driving lesson began by backing out of the driveway between two huge tree pillars... the only time I feared the trees... but we all made it unscathed!
I cannot imagine my childhood without the pure joy of trees.

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Submitted by Nancy Johnson
On my second date with a guy, he took me to a park where two trees had intertwined forming the shape of a heart. He said he wanted me to see it because it reminded him of us when he saw it. I was obviously a little taken aback given that it was just our second date. Clearly, I got over it though. We've been married for 31 years now.


Submitted by Steph Lambert
At my aunt and uncles place in Centralia Wa. stands a huge willow tree thant hangs over a creek. My sister and I would play under that tree for what feels like forever. We called it the Weebow tree. In it we were pirates and princesses. Under it wewere hobits and fairys. Around it we were huck finn or the rescuers down under. We planned our futures and played out our lives in what could have been a million ways. We divided halloween candy hid Easter eggs and dumped out stockings under that tree. And in 2006 I spread a few of her ashes under that tree. In a few days Ill spread a few of my uncle's ashes as well. Some day my children and grand children will play in that tree AND love all that Weebow can give. One day my ashes will be spread there and in its rings and bark I will grow, throughout my families future adventures I will live.


Submitted by Judi Markovich Schimke
My remembrance is about a Gravenstein apple tree in a neighbor’s yard...my mom died when I was 5 yrs. old & I went to live with my grandparents on Roosevelt Heights. I made friends with the girl next door & we used to sit in the crook of
that apple tree & plan what we would do when we grew up.
I have not been back for many years so I don’t know if the tree
is still there, but it will live in my memory forever. Gravensteins were the best apples ever, but not sure if they are planted any longer.