I spent the summer of 1992 in Chile after my family relocated countries for the second time in less than 7 years. One fine day mom, dad, little bro and the family dog waved goodbye alongside me at what was to be our “new” old house.
As everyone knows, thirteen is nothing short of a funny age, plagued by raging hormones, awkwardness and plain old persnickety spunk. I went along cursing the day our house sold and lamenting all the friends I was leaving behind, specially after realizing that THE most important part of my student career (High school) would be spent in a foreign land.
Chile, being on the other side of the equator, offered an additional and particularly awful disadvantage: I would, on top of everything else, be robbed of the oncoming US summer having to wait another three excruciating months for summer to roll around in Chile. As if changing lives wasn’t enough, I now faced another round of cold weather and worst of all, another 3 months re-adjusting, AKA repeating the 8th grade (with a Chilean twist).
When summer finally came, and I had passed the 8th grade for the second time in my life, our family settled on a 100 acre ranch about 12 minutes from the city. Our house was a moderate walk from the river and we were surrounded by apple orchards, wheat fields and other fruit trees.
The old Plum Tree rooted itself behind our house, was great for climbing and was packed with summer fruit. It was a magical place to play and make up stories, sit and draw, or gather an afternoon snack. In fact, it was so plentiful that the ground was often covered with the fruit that had overburdened the tree with its ripened weight. Our family dog, Chipper, took full advantage of this by disappearing every afternoon for a couple of hours, gorging himself with plums (pits and all) and offering the only evidence of his adventures by consequently dragging his tummy back around the house, bursting at the seams.
It’s funny what one views as “the end of the world” during those formative adolescent years. Looking back, despite all of the hardship and readjustment, I have very fond memories of that experience. The old Plum Tree is where I picked up a camera for the very first time. Life was truly different, spent in the outskirts of the city on one of the most beautiful country sides in the world, as opposed to the vast concrete landscapes of major metropolitan life. The old Plum Tree will forever be a symbol of summer, life-long friendships, artful endeavors, childhood games and the joy of the great outdoors.
That, was the best summer of my life. And it’s how I came to realize, that life truly is what you make of it. In short, the old Plum Tree is where life becomes an art.