“Why are there trees I never walk under  But large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”   — Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

If you’ve ever gone to Rotary Park in Biddeford, you’ve probably noticed the lovely trees that line one side of the entrance road. They stand back a few feet back from a widely-spaced border of large granite blocks and have grown considerably over the years. One tree in particular has special importance to me, as it’s the one my daughter planted in 1983 as part of a project conducted by the Girl Scout troop she belonged to. She was 10 years old at the time, and the tree-planting was part of a program to help beautify certain areas of the city. It just so happens that it’s the very first one you see as you turn off Main Street onto the Rotary Park Drive, where it stands, more than 35 years later, in all its majesty, just a few feet from the road.

The tree, a linden (Tilia americana L.), is a hybrid of a species that is native to parts of Europe. Also known as basswood, the linden tree produces leathery deep green heart-shaped leaves in May and large clusters of very fragrant flowers in June, both of which can be dried and used to make tea. It can grow to 80 feet, and its dense foliage provides deep shade, which makes it popular as an ornamental.

The day I stopped to look at and take photos of the tree, I was awed by its rich fullness, by the vibrant green of the leaves, and the dense swaths of creamy white flowers that almost obliterated the foliage. I stood beneath it and looked up through the boughs to its crown, marveling at how all that beauty had emanated from a single tiny seedling.

I doubt my daughter knew or thought about any of this the day she dug the hole in which to plant “her tree.” If memory serves her well, she believes the activity was designed to earn her some type of environmental badge or patch to add to those on the sash she wore across her uniform at meetings and other Girl Scout functions.

According to Kate McCarthy, Volunteer Support Manager for the Girl Scouts of Maine based in Bangor, a Junior Girl Scout at that point in time could have been working toward earning one of several patches that reflected her awareness of her role in environmental preservation and enhancement. In a recent email, McCarthy wrote: “That is so cool that the tree is still growing and she (my daughter) remembers the one she planted!”

Fast-forward to a bright and sunny June day in 2018. We are just leaving Rotary Park after enjoying a family picnic and I see my daughter parked up ahead of me on the side of the road. She and her daughter are out of the car and standing under a tree, so of course I stop to find out what’s going on. She informs me that the tree they’re admiring is the very one she planted as a Girl Scout, so of course, a few photos are in order. Three decades have passed since the day she knelt on the grass there and placed the little linden seedling in a hole, and I can’t help but wish I’d been there that day as well. Now, all I can do is try to imagine the scene as she stood back admiring what came to be known as “My Girl Scout Tree.”

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