YORKTOWN, VIRGINIA, U.S.A. What is the easiest question for most people is one of the hardest for me: where are you from? As the daughter of a naval officer, I have had eight homes. My parents and I were fortunate to stay however in one house, our true home, for nine years. From fourth grade until I graduated from high school, Yorktown, VA was our home. Even though we have moved thraee times since then, this was, and is still considered to be, our backyard.

My parents have some of the greenest thumbs that I know. From potted plants to shrubs, one of the most difficult parts of moving from one place to another is figuring out how to transport all of our beloved plants! The initial weekends in Yorktown were spent at hardware and garden stores. While we waited for the builders to finish our house (because when contractors say it will be done in July they really mean October), my parents mapped out our backyard.

My dad and a neighbor spent two long weekends building four raised, bricked beds that would house our vegetable garden. Another few weekends were spent installing the small fishpond. For some reason, personal fishponds were considered a neighborhood trend at the time. But as our neighbors and we would soon learn, a fishpond is more work than it is worth—we didn’t realize that a net had to be constantly over the pond to detract swooping pelicans from snatching up our goldfish nor did we know that when the temperature dropped below freezing, we would be out there every hour with a tea kettle filled with hot water breaking the ice so the fish could breathe.

In many ways, the red Japanese maple that we planted in the center of our backyard centered our family as well. It was this tree, bought at one of our first garden center outings, that became the backdrop to our lives. From serving as the photo backdrop of winter wonderland landscapes to sixteenth birthday party activities to prom and graduation memories, this Japanese maple is a synonymous memory to my Yorktown backyard.

So while new neighbors have settled in and we don’t know what the backyard looks like now, this will be the image forever in my head of my backyard.

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