While walking in a local Brooklyn park this weekend I came upon this tree which immediately reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite books:
The Tree-of-Heaven, or Ailanthus Altissima, was used as an inspirational metaphor in the classic Betty Smith's 1943 novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." The Ailanthus' obvious persistence to survive and grow despite all odds was equal to the book's characters aspirations for a better life despite enduring hardships. It’s a coming of age story about Francie Nolan as her family struggles with poverty, alcoholism, and the realities of life in the tenements of Brooklyn, New York in the early part of the century.
"The one tree in Francie's yard was neither a pine nor a
hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated
from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green
umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed
fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up
lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out
of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenement districts."
- Betty Smith
Does the Ailanthus Altissima also grow where you live? Do you have a favorite book from your youth that you revisit time and time again? One where you've recognized characteristics of yourself, or a book that transported you to a favorite time or place?
I'd love to hear about in your comment....thanks!