Who owns the trees?

There’s not much I remember from when my grandpa came to live with us in the fifth grade. However, I do recall his restlessness. Back in Cambodia, there are the temples, the monks to give reverence to, the old friends who walk by on their daily stroll, the small spirit house at the edge of the backyard that places you near the dirt path connecting society.

Here on Turtle Creek, there is our cold red brick facade, some smaller brick structures and others larger still, all on neatly-packaged lots. Except for the lot across the street.

For many years, that lot remained wooded–thousands of square feet of untouched piney woods. It became my home for summer evenings when my neighbor and I would find paths beneath its branches and bridges, even homes upon fallen trees.

My grandpa played there, too.

Perhaps it reminded him of the rare parts of his home land that had yet to be cut down for foreign corporate profit. Or, maybe he just enjoyed its wildness, the juxtaposition of perfectly-kept lawns against nature’s stronghold.

He often went there to cut down limbs and other pieces of tree that he used to build a trellis in our backyard garden. I used to think it very funny. “Grandpa, you can’t do that. Someone owns that land,” I thought.

And now, now I understand.