By in Family

My Love Of Trees

My Love Of Trees

As far as I can remember I’ve always loved trees. As a child, I grew up in Montreal where there were beautiful parks everywhere. We were a hop and a skip away from parks; in the summer all our afternoons were spent there. I used to lay down underneath the Maple trees to watch them sway in the wind from side to side and the leaves looked like pompom's cheering. To those who know me well, I’m considered a tree hugger; funny that years later I was to marry another tree hugger in his own right.

My love of trees stems from my father and his comes from his father. In Italy where he was originally from, he was a cultivator, like his father before him. He worked on his father’s land where he cared for vineyards mainly, there were also fig trees, almond trees, chestnut trees, olive trees and prickly pears (cactus). When Canada opened the immigration doors to Italy, my father decided he would apply. It was a long process, getting all his papers in order; Canada was looking for agriculturers at that time, seemed pretty straightforward. It was 1948, when he left his beloved mother and father behind, promising not to forget them. Forget them he didn't, he sent money back to them until their passing many years later.

He arrived in Canada by ship, and was welcomed by the family that had sponsored him with work. They were looking for people to work on their farm and he was the hand, having guaranteed employment made him feel secure. It was a scary thing to leave your country, not knowing the language, nor knowing the culture. It was the end of summer when he arrived. My father told me he got a chill up his spin and not from the cold, when he arrived at the farm that’s when he realized what he was getting into. He realized quickly that something got lost in translation. He had applied as an agriculturer but there were no vines, no figs, no almonds, no chestnut, no olives or prickly pears here in Canada... there were only POTATOES. In Italy cultivating was different than in Canada, anyway at the farm in Mirabel where he landed up, they picked potatoes, now that family had no fancy machines he and others like him were the manpower. The days were long; all day long he was thinking of how he was going to get out of that situation. By now fall had arrived and it was getting colder day by day, my father didn't see himself doing this much longer, it was very hard work. All day they were to pick potatoes on their knees and fill 50 lb bags. One day he was invited to go to the city and when he saw the city of MONTREAL, his eyes opened wide and he felt hopeful once again. Not long after he found and moved into a one-room apartment, where he lived for the next few years. It didn’t break his heart to leave the farm…there was no garden there in his new dwelling where he rented, so for those years he didn’t plant anything. He found a new job fairly quickly at Dorval Airport and began his new life.

In 1956, he went to Italy where he married my mother; after they married he left her in Italy to come to Canada to prepare a new apartment for them to live together and they were reunited only after 6 months. My parents both worked very hard and after 2 years bought a house. This time he had a garden and did he ever plant. The summers being short in Montreal, it was important to take full advantage of everyday as soon as spring came he would start preparing all the seeds. By mid June the garden was planted. When I was little I used to hide in between the tomato plants and sometimes pick tomatoes, when they were not so ripe, my father was so proud of his accomplishments he would chase after me so I wouldn’t destroy his garden. Being his only child I remember how I got away with everything…

When I was older, my father always kept his love of gardening alive; we planted our tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, the hardier vines and our fruit trees. We had apple (mela), pear (pera), prune (prugna), peach (pescha), apricot (albicocha), and our mulberry tree (gelso). All our trees bared fruit, my father really understood the needs of every tree. He knew when a tree was ill, when it needed vitamins, when there was something wrong with the soil. Friends and family marvelled every time they walked into that paradise he created.

Time slipped away and today my father is no longer, but I live through the love of trees he gave to me. Today in turn I spread my love of trees to my children and hopefully they’ll get something out of it. I’m sure my father didn’t think his passion would affect me so profoundly. He would be happy to see my garden today; he’d give me pointers too. Today I have my own personal collection, my pride and joy, my guava trees! I grew my first tree from seed. It grew strong and tall, honestly I never thought It would give me any fruit but I was wrong, It has given me an abundance of sweet and juicy fruit, with white pulp and yellow skin. I also have apple trees, prune trees, a mini vineyard, multiple blueberry bushes, and raspberry bushes.

Many years have passed and now I’m my father’s age when he shared with me his passion, everything has changed and yet everything is still the same, sometimes when I go for walks on my own land, where I live with my husband and my 2 youngest boys, I’m surrounded by trees, Maples, Oak, Spruce, Evergreens and so much more, and I can’t help but look up and I see those Maple trees swaying in the wind from side to side, and the leaves still look like pompom’s cheering…maybe they were cheering us on all this time.

Image Credit » Photo by Isabella Di Fronzo

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laksh wrote on October 26, 2014, 2:10 AM

Lovely and serene story!
I'm particularly happy about finding a fellow tree lover :) I also love trees like CRAZY.
It was really great of your father to quit that farm job and find another job all on his own in such a big city! Are your boys also tree lovers like you? :)

PattyTherre wrote on October 26, 2014, 2:20 AM

We had all sorts of trees in our yard when I was a kid from weeping willows to cherry and pear trees. I loved them. I found I am allergic to box elders but don't even know what one is so I can't stay away from them. lol

ashuli wrote on October 26, 2014, 5:25 AM

Just amazed by reading your interesting personal life experience, your love for trees clearly shows that you love nature and i really appreciate it!

tafmona wrote on October 26, 2014, 7:12 AM

I grew up in the village, I love the way my dad has a gift of taking care of trees

Scorpie wrote on October 26, 2014, 8:48 AM

I love my trees as well and have some great specimens at home and work.
The little one in the front I planted there.

Kasman wrote on October 26, 2014, 8:52 AM

This is a most heart-warming story. A tale of a poor immigrant making a successful life in a strange country. I have never considered the concept of a tree 'being ill' before but it shows that your father really understood about trees. You have followed in your father's footsteps and now have your own 'family' of trees and it is not just they who cheer you - I do too! :)

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 10:54 AM

My children grew up in the forest and it is not uncommon to find them up a tree. I remember them being very young and calling them in for lunch and they were all in a tree right by my kitchen window, i didn't even see them going up. They were so high up i couldn't imagine them figuring their way back down on their own, but they did.

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:03 AM

Illness in trees can be fatal. Fruit trees are very susceptible to insect infestation, they must be monitored regularly. They also must be treated to protect them against disease. Treatments are done from spring to fall, in winter we get a break.

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:20 AM

Maybe google could give us a clarification to box elders. I'm curious to know??? I love weeping willows they are so majestic with an incredible presence.

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:47 AM

I'm happy not to be alone, trees are so wonderful. It was hard for my father when he came to Canada he didn't speak English or French the 2 official languages in Canada, only Italian. He was with some other Italian people that had traveled the sea with him so at least he had friends to share things with, the Italian community was tight nit and they helped all the new comers. Slowly though he did learn to speak English and French and became self sufficient. By the way, my boys are always the first to go pick the apples on the furthest limb.

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:48 AM


Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:50 AM

It's like a form of meditation, you're alone with your thoughts and you heal and grow.

laksh wrote on October 26, 2014, 12:03 PM

It all seems so adventurous and exciting just at the thought of it... Do you still have any connection with Italy?

Dawnwriter wrote on October 26, 2014, 1:08 PM

I also find trees very fascinating as if they have witnessed so much and are smiling compassionately or sadly at our follies and mistakes.

maxeen wrote on October 26, 2014, 1:58 PM

I always remember 'The Big Tree' at the end of the woods ,that was where we kids would all meet up . The Bully of the gang would climb to the very top of this huge tree and yodel,just like Tarzan.
Thanks for your tree story,enjoyed it..

PattyTherre wrote on October 26, 2014, 2:34 PM

I loved our weeping willow. It was beautiful. But my brother would whip me with a twig and that wasn't beautiful. (When we were kids, not to really hurt me.) I will google box elders and see if i can figure out if I have any around here.

Cherokee wrote on October 26, 2014, 8:02 PM

Tress are so beautiful. People think I am crazy for wanting my yard to be surrounded by trees. They don't even have to be spectacular but in my eyes, every tree is pretty in its own way. Now I feel like Charlie Brown. LOL Thanks for your lovely posting!

Isabella wrote on October 26, 2014, 9:28 PM

It's nice to hear that there are so many tree lovers out there. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 2:16 AM

It makes my heart feel good to read this. I also love trees, and especially those that bear fruit and nuts. There is something very special about picked fruit at its peak of ripeness from your own trees.

paigea wrote on October 28, 2014, 1:03 PM

Your father was an amazning gardener. How wonderful to have learned from him. My husband started his working life picking potatoes, hoeing beets, and similar tasks for neighbouring farmers when he was a teen.

Isabella wrote on October 28, 2014, 9:05 PM

Oh goodness yes... we are such a close knit family.

Isabella wrote on October 28, 2014, 9:19 PM

I think it was the culture shock that was the hardest for my father, the language gap was difficult too and lastly the weather, the cold left him frozen.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 12:51 AM

As always, I smiled all the way through this post! Your descriptions take me back to similar experiences in my life - lying under the trees watching them sway in the wind, the maple trees in Montreal... I remember some of the wonderful gardens people grew in the city. When we were in Verdun there was a man who lived some blocks away, and who had a garden that took up all the front yard of his apartment. He had a trellis for grapes and zucchini that went over the path to his front door, and used every inch to grow something edible for his family. It was a glorious sight!

Isabella wrote on October 29, 2014, 10:22 PM

I know... it is common use in Montreal and surrounding areas to make wonderful gardens. I'm glad i grew up seeing my father and our neighbors grow zucchini and grapes in their yards, they brought a piece of Italy here with them.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 31, 2014, 2:59 AM

The gardens in Italian neighbourhoods are so fabulous! And we have those who emigrated to Canada and the US, to thank for all kinds of beautiful foods. Broccoli, zucchini, all kinds of pasta dishes, breads, and delicious pastries like zeppole too :)

Isabella wrote on October 31, 2014, 2:32 PM

Kyla, i'm getting hungry.... You're inspiring me again, i'm going to cook something magnificent and then i'm going to post it, in honor of you, dearest friend.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 1, 2014, 2:52 AM

How wonderful of you, Isabella! I'm truly touched! It sounds as if you've bounced back from your hospital visit very well too :)