Lydia Gardner’s Upturned Roots

Lydia Gardner , Business Manager

She’s eight years old and sitting on the swingset in her backyard. The mid-October air is crisp with the smell of changing leaves and the upcoming winter. She looks at a branch of the one oak that stands next to her bedroom window. As she slouches on her favorite swing, with her feet barely hitting the dirt underneath her, she traces the branch all the way down to its stump. She looks back up again, scows in confusion, and thinks out loud, “How is this tree standing so tall? What is holding it so strong that it doesn’t budge at gusts of wind?” Her short attention span lures her to another thought and she continues on with her day.

She never forgets about the tree.

She’s now 16 years old, walking the halls of a big high school and trying to manage all that comes her way. She still wonders about that tree, but not in the same way as when she was younger. With double the amount of science classes under her belt, she knows now that roots are what anchors the oak tree. Finding the answer to her question, the tree becomes merely just a tree.

“Today we are beginning the lesson of heredity, do you know your roots?” her Biology teacher asks.

That’s when she remembers the tree. She then thought of something she has never thought of before: humans have roots, dogs have roots, and even bugs have roots. Every living thing has roots, literally and figuratively. Due to the fact that her curiosity wasn’t extremely motivating, a long, complicated search on did not appeal to her… not yet at least. At this point in her life, she felt as though she knows everything she needs to know about herself. She knows what she likes and dislike, and more importantly, what she wants to be when she grows up.

All it took was one conversation. One conversation that changed the way she looked at everything.

After weeks of convincing she finally agreed to go visit her mom’s hometown, York Pennsylvania. As she packed her Vera Bradley duffle bag with 3 days worth of clothing, she looked out her window at the oak tree and thought nothing of it.

It was the day after her arrival and the itinerary consisted of visiting her mother’s childhood home and going to her grandfather’s concrete plant.

Her grandfather passed away four years before she was born, so walking on the ground he once stood on and seeing the things he once saw, gave her butterflies. Good butterflies.

That’s when it all changed.

Her mother’s cousin, Chris, greeted them at the door with an infectious smile and eyes that matched the ones her grandfather had in pictures she stole from her mother. Chris sat them down in his quaint, little office and began catching up with her mom.

That’s when Chris lightened a part of her that has never been lit before. He started to recall their family tree dating all the way back to the mid 1700s.

She sat amazed. Amazed at where and who she came from.

Through the years, she has become aware of her strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. While learning about her heritage, she was intrigued at the possibility of her ancestors sculpting the person she has become.

Instead of this information bringing a feeling of closure, more and more questions rose to the surface.

She then pictured herself on her favorite swing, staring at the tree she once admired. She saw the tree through different eyes. Before, she saw the roots as the structures that just held the tree up, but now she sees them for what they really are, sculptors. They give the tree life.