Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Literary Tree #ThursdayTreeLove #BlogBoost

Tenacity.  The ability to grow where it was planted, and flourish despite all odds.

The lessons of a tree that grew in Brooklyn and inspired a best selling novel.

In 1943, a novel called A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith was published.  It was the story of an impoverished 11 year old girl, Francene Nolan, who, during the course of the novel, endures many hardships.  When the book ends, Francene is seventeen and is ready to embark on her adult life.

Like the tree in the yard of her apartment building, Francene survives all that life throws at her.  The tree is destroyed again and again, but lives and resprouts.

I fell in love with that book when I read it as a young teen.  And yes, as someone who grew up in New York City, I am quite familiar with that tree.

The tree is called Ailanthus altissima.  Another name is the tree of Heaven, which may be a sarcastic name.   It is quite invasive, grows rapidly, and can live up to 100 years or more.  If chopped down, it will regrow from its roots.  And, quite literally, the tree can stink.

Today, some 150 miles away from Brooklyn, I saw a Tree of Heaven in the yard of a house in Binghamton, New York, a small city that has seen better days.  You don't see quite as many of these trees as you do in Brooklyn (one of the five boroughs of New York City).  My father was born and spent part of his life in Brooklyn.

If Brooklyn was its own city (it was, at one time), it would be the fourth largest city in the United States.  In some ways, the Ailanthus is the ideal street tree of Brooklyn. 

Join Parul at Happiness and Food and other bloggers who love trees on the second and fourth Thursday of the month, for #ThursdayTreeLove.  Our lives would be so different without trees, don't you think?

Day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #BlogBoost


  1. Loved the connection to the novel Alana - and also loved that it's also called the Tree of Heaven - maybe its ability to resurrect itself gave it that name?

  2. I don't think I ever saw that tree- but I certainly loved the book as a tyke, as well.

  3. Love this! Just added A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to my reading list!

  4. One of the ongoing conflicts between my husband and myself was our differing attitudes toward trees. I would plant and he would cut. Not that he didn't appreciate the several varieties that cover our acreage her in East Texas. But, for thirty years our primary heat source was a wood-burning stove. And guess who had the job of cutting trees and turning them into firewood.

  5. I read that book as a teen, and again as an adult. My dad was a Brooklyn kid, he loved that book.

  6. That book title was ubiquitous in cartoons of the era. And some movies, too. I haven't read it, but I know the title just from seeing it in so much media from that time.

  7. I grew up in Manhattan- not as many trees there as where I am now, but we certainly had Central Park a few blocks away!

    I love hiking in the woods today!

  8. That sounds like an interesting book, I'll have to read it. Beautiful tree Alana!

  9. Hi, I believe trees enhance out lives by helping us to breath by increasing oxygen in the air. They provide materials for our homes, tables, chairs, and so much more. I have collected their lifeblood, sap, and made maple syrup. I have planted hundreds of trees with the boy scouts, and cut and split a few for heating not only my home but that of others. Now I am learning about latex and cork and eucalyptus. Wow, what a gift, I pray for wisdom to know how to use it wisely.
    I will continue to blog on since the paper mill in my home town has shut down.

  10. Wow! Considering it has the word 'Heaven' in its name, it does have some unheavenly features... We have another Ailanthus species here called Ailanthus excelsa. Good to know about its 'cousin'!

  11. What a lovely way to reflect:) liked your post and yes the tree looks awesome and am impressed with the learning from this tree...

  12. I loved that the tree is called Tree of Heaven. I am surprised that with that name it stinks. :P But kind of good that it grows even when the roots are chopped. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad to have you around.


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