It was one of my most favorite places at the arboretum — a five minute walk from my house, passed the swan pond and up the hill from the rose garden.
From the outside it appeared as a dome of leaves, wide and tall. It's outer appearance would not have drawn you in. Just one of a thousand other trees in the arboretum's collection.
I wonder how many visitors actually knew how magnificent it truly was.
You had to enter this tree. Pulling back the branches like a curtain I stepped into what my childlike imagination affectionately called, the elephant tree.
Inside, a canopy of dangling leaves and branches. Its large, wrinkly gray trunk invited climbing and exploration. Up from its center exploded hundreds of offshoots that arched and fell back to the ground, like ribbons of water from an outdoor fountain. Love initials scrawled into its furrowed branches.
I felt safe there.
This European Weeping Beech was my childhood playground. A frequent attraction on my playdate tours. I remember taking Becky there and getting stuck in the crook of the tree, too afraid to climb back down, thinking I would have to stay there forever. Until a hero came by, gave me a little scolding for being up there, and eventually helped me down.
The tree is only a fraction of what it once was, but it will live on through it's offshoots, like Charlotte did through her baby spiders in Charlotte's Web.
And maybe one day it will again be as magnificent as it once was. And another child will find the hidden treasure inside this amazing tree.