Black locust trees anchor my house. They are a much a part of its history as the wavy glass windows and half-wrap porch. Even in a photo taken in 1900, they were relatively large trees. Where three once stood, there are now two. A large weathered stump tells the tale of a sapling’s fate—its robust nature ill-suited for a spot so close to the house.
When I moved into the house five Mays ago, I was surprised to see the locust trees bare, massive limbs exposed and skeletal while the surrounding trees were drenched in spring green. Weeks later, they made a late entrance that was well worth the wait, unfurling lacey leaves positioned below racemes seemingly stolen from the wisteria. Their fragrant white petals rode the wind when spent–a flurry that lasted for weeks and a scene too dreamy for me to grouse about clogged gutters.
At the peak of bloom, and at sun’s first light, the tree began to hum, like a pulsing current of energy. It took a while for me to understand what I was hearing and where it was coming from. (Heavy-breathing bulldogs tend to drowned out decibel levels just shy of an operating jet engine or stone crusher.) Walking toward the din of activity, I discovered that every bee on the island–bumble, honey or otherwise–was scurrying for position at this inviting nectar bar. Locust trees must possess the most delicious nectar around because the bees were focused, frantic and loud, uninterested in anything other than what was before them (much like me at a Sunday brunch).
I’d have to say my other favorite, the madrona tree, belongs to fall and winter. When the days are short and the light fleeting, the tree commands your attention. But when the sun is high, the breeze cooling and the daylight without end, there is no finer place to reflect the day (or place a hammock) than beneath the furrowed branches of the black locust tree, especially if a kind soul planted a few for you 120 years ago.