An Arbor Day Tale... And Outrigger's Native Specie Giveaway

An Arbor Day Tale... And Outrigger's Native Specie Giveaway

When I was in the 2nd grade, I was given a pine tree seedling-just as every child in my Hudson Valley, N.Y., class was given-to take home on Arbor Day. I remember walking down the hallway after the final bell had rung, and seeing a handful of paper towel and rubber banded seedlings tossed on the linoleum floor. I re-moistened my seedling's covering, which loosely wrapped 6 inches of tiny roots, and promised my tree wouldn't meet such a neglectful demise.

After walking the mile to my home, without hesitation (or so much as a "hello" for mom) I walked smack in to the middle of my front yard, and planted the sprig. About a week later, I woke to the sound of my father mowing the lawn. I shot out of bed (footie pajamas and all), ran across the lawn, and stood in front of my limp seedling.

"What are you doing?" my father scoffed.

"Don't mow over my tree! I got it for Arbor Day, and planted it here!" I commanded.

And there it stayed, steadily straightening and growing for two years, until my parents decided to extend the driveway directly to our front door. What a concept.

The day before the effort was to begin, I plunked a shovel in to the yard, and dug out a lovely 2-foot hole, my mini-pine tree in the center. This time, with slightly more careful contemplation (and a consultation with the landlord-my father), I re-planted the tree at the crux of our driveway and the perpendicular, bucolic lane off which we lived. Someday, I thought, it would grow up and over our mailbox, and create a natural signpost to mark the house in which I-and my tree-grew up.

Ten years later, I moved to Arizona, to begin a 3-school (by modest count) tour aptly dubbed "college". Stints in Oregon, back to upstate N.Y., and Northern California followed. Seven years after that I moved to Manhattan around the same time my folks sold our home, opting for warmer climes and new adventure. A few jaunts back to the west coast, to Europe and back, and before I knew it, I was re-settled in the Hawaiian Islands.

Twenty-seven years later-last fall-I found myself driving north on the Saw Mill Parkway, out of Manhattan, and towards my hometown. I visited the park in which I took my first sleigh ride. The soccer field I scored my first goal, and the pizza parlor I was standing in when a teenage Tony Hawk signed my Mark Gator orange and black skateboard with two-toned Simms wheels and fluorescent orange Tracker trucks.

And of course, I drove by my old home.

Turning up the street that I had walked for the entirety of elementary school, everything looked smaller. The homes-which seemed to take hours to walk between as a child, visiting this new puppy, that neighbor lady who always had fresh-baked cookies, and the home of my first crush/babysitter-were surprisingly closer than I had remembered. The luster of the street itself-which held impromptu skateboard or dirt bike competitions, neighborhood relay races or pickup basketball games-seemed dull and lifeless.

Yet upon approaching my old driveway, one thing struck me as magnificent. And huge. And all my doing.

My tree-the tiny pine seedling that I had cradled from a 2nd grade classroom a mile away, planted, re-planted, watered and watched-was now 40 feet high. It's trunk, an impressive 8 inches in diameter, was far thicker than one of my legs. It had grown to shade the mailbox, which now sat comfortably underneath it (it's location having not moved since we did), the first "rung" of branches an impressive 8 feet off the ground.

We'd both grown. One of us criss-crossed the globe, back and forth a dozen times; the other, straight up towards the sky. Each admirable.

This November 1st and 2nd, three Outrigger properties will celebrate Arbor Day by giving away native plant specie seedlings, such as ti and hibiscus. They have been pre-inspected and approved for transportation between islands, as well as out of Hawaii.

Thursday, Nov. 1, Waikiki's Outrigger Reef on the Beach will offer free crafts and activities and hand out native seedlings between 10 a.m. and noon.

Friday, Nov. 2, similar activities and offerings will take place at the same time at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach.

Saturday, Nov. 3, the Arbor Day celebration jumps the pond to the Keauhou Beach Resort on Hawaii Island. Native plants will be given away courtesy of the Amy Greenwell Botanical Gardens.

All events are free.

"We'd both grown. One of us criss-crossed the globe, back and forth a dozen times; the other, straight up towards the sky. Each admirable."