Tilia Cordata


   A large Little Leaf Linden tree grows on the west side of the Reading Public Museum. The arboretum identification plaque juts out from the trunk. The Latin name is Tilia cordata. Little Leaf Lime is its true identity; before being drafted to replace the American Linden.

  A woman emerges from a side door with a portable tub of goods, the kind teachers and summer school instructors use for children’s classes, full to the brim with colored papers and cups and other items the translucent plastic obscures.

    A variety of cultivated flowers grows here. A beautiful creamy daisy or zinnia calls for attention.

    Grounds crewmen feed sawn trees into a chipper, including an old cypress, exotic and cool.

    The only heron here is a photograph of one, part of a display board of native bird and animal species.

    The path along the Wyomissing creek leads to another recreation area, where a few trout dart in and around submerged rocks. A golden retriever that loves to get wet and loves to play fetch, goes in the pond for a tennis ball. The dog presents the game to its owner and shakes off the water with pride and pleasure.

  On the sloping path, a woman makes a controlled descent, pushing a baby buggy. The baby is newborn. A little leaf on the family tree. Little Leaf Linden, the baby Tilia.

   The stone-arch bridge over the creek was constructed in the 1930’s and remains sound. Silver paint protects the iron railing. The upright railing marches to a simple industrial rhythm: straight and strong, straight and strong.

   The bark of the tree around the next bend grows in sensuous, sculpted patches. Its testicular fruit hangs on the branches. Across the rustic path ascends the tallest, healthiest arborvitae I have ever seen, forming a bushy spire between 30 and 40 feet tall. The blue chicory flowers bloom. A branch with 27 leaves has fallen across the way.

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