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‘A Shade Tree’ by Shane Brown

Photo by Tom Rankin
Photo by Tom Rankin

The private property and no trespassing sign that use to be nailed up on the cedar tree that shades the dock are gone. So are the cane poles that held a cork and hook leaned up against the sheltered tree from the rain. They often held minnows for crappie to bite. You don’t have to move from your spot on the dock when the rain starts to fall because of its thickness of needles the cedar produces or maybe its structure. I sat down here with my brother-in-law last weekend as it rained. We never once moved. We took in Tula and its peace. Dad sat here too. Not in the chairs we do, but on a little bench he bought at the local hardware store in Oxford he loved and frequently visited. That bench is gone, now too, from age. Of course, he is too, but he isn’t gone from Tula.

I hope this cedar tree that hangs above my head last a long time. Dad picked out the perfect spot to build his little deck at under this tree. It’s massive size puts a huge presence here at our place. It used to be the initial first thing you saw while looking at the pond before the cabin was built in front of it. You can still see its dark green welcoming you as it is towering over the cabin as you pull down the drive. I’d love to know how old it is. It’s been here as long as I can remember as I was a little boy. It has grown as I have too. I love how the skin of the trunk peels up and my kids pull a piece off. I love how they climb limb to limb and pose for a picture. I love that he picked this spot; the place he’d sit under the cedar, on this dock.

He hung out with his “bros,” and kids and my mom right here. I do it too. We all still sit here often. It’s easy here and nobody bothers you. Signs are gone, and fishing equipment and sitting places have changed, but Tula hasn’t; not Dad’s Tula. He’d sit here alone perfectly fine. He’d listen to all these natural sounds; a cricket, a bird, bullfrogs, or a howl. It would make him or you worry about not finishing up a project or a certain time to be somewhere. Kids or family or friends were an extra happiness when around. Excitement bounces off the water and echoes through the hills and wrapped forest. You can sit alone or you can sit with many. We still sit here and I still sit here; right where he did. It’s right where he decided he wanted us to be; sitting under this beautiful shade tree.

S. Brown bio photoShane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University and works as a salesman for Best Chance. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at msushanebrown@icloud.com.


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