Ode to the Linden Tree

I noticed a social media post about it being National Tree Day yesterday, September 22,

(different day in every country) and thought I’d share, a day late, a bit about one of my favourite trees, the linden. 

Thirty years ago, I’d planted a linden tree in my garden because it reminded me of my mom. I remember a song she would sing about the linden tree and it seemed to me that my sparsely treed garden in suburbia wouldn’t be complete without the nostalgia of a linden tree. The sapling has grown big and strong. It’s graced my garden with spring blossoms, summer shade and amber fall colours. Squirrels, blue jays and various migrating birds seem to love it, too. It lends support to my summer clothesline and could have been a perfect hammock supporter if I’d been clever enough to space the trees properly. But that’s okay . . . the green ash and Manitoba maple have assumed that job. 

When I travelled through the former Volhynia in current-day Ukraine, our roots group was led to aging, broken lindens . . . damaged by war and by lightning strikes. Thick stumps stand as markers to past villages and lived lives. In The Kulak’s Daughter (aka Red Stone), it’s blossoms of the linden tree that help sustain the exiled family in Siberia by brewing linden tea.

In my own garden, the linden tree also stands as a measure of time. Three decades of raising three kids. . . weathering sunny days and storms, always growing . . . reaching up towards the light.

Famous lindens in German culture include the Berlin street known as “Unter den Linden,” and the linden tree that marks Werther’s grave after his suicide in Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (a novel which had a big impact on me back in university along with most everyone who's read it!)

But mostly, when I think of lindens, I think of my mom, softly singing. 

Vor dem Haus steht eine Linde/Sie weht ihr Äst im Winde/ Da sitzen davor ein altes Paar/Sie sitzen als waren sie schon immer da/ Sie denken zurücke/an Jugend und Glücke/Vorbei, vorbei/Mein Schatz vorbei.

Translated:  In front of the house stands a linden tree/It waves its limbs in the wind/There sit an old couple/They sit as if they’ve been there forever/They think back/on their youth and their joys/It’s over, it’s over/My love, it’s over.

I’ve searched the internet for this song and have still not found it. I only have the snippet of these words and melody . . . sourced from memory. But like the linden tree itself, it’s rooted deep into my life. 


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