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Crape Myrtle—a Tree for the Ages

by | Jul 14, 2014

I open the attic window and lean out. Crape myrtle flowers billow below me in a pink froth.

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It’s that time of year. Blooming crape myrtles line grassy sidewalks in small towns everywhere. White church steeples rise out of a sea of pink. Visitors from France gasp at the rare outrageous blossoms so familiar and honey to us.

Not only do crape myrtles grace Virginia so beautifully in every season, but this particular tree is to me almost like one of the ancestors. In our last heavy rain, rain-drenched blossoms floated over our walkway as if we were about to have a rosy visitation.

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When we moved here in 1971, I was told that the crape myrtles in the front yard had been planted early in the century by the family Grandpa at the time, poet and orchard man S. P. Yoder. I don’t remember why we moved one of them to the back yard. But it was a happy stroke of luck. Three generations of grandfathers have passed away by now.We are the grandparents. Our children have been born, grown up, and moved away. And the crape myrtle still blooms.

Its trunk is old and sculpted now.

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Children climb in its branches.

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Birds bathe in its shade.

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Wild friends take refuge on its smooth surface.

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In winter it becomes an ice sculpture.

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In fall it blazes with glory.

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Its leaves drift down to nestle beside a mossy brick.

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Our ancient crape myrtle casts its blossoms on the driveway, footprints of those from times gone by. This is truly a tree for the ages.

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Susan Yoder Ackerman is a writer and gardener in Newport News, Virginia. Both her writing and her gardening are enhanced by tending a century-old family farmhouse and eight grandchildren that come and go. You can email Susan at [email protected].