These Trees Blessed Me


I realize that the word ‘blessed’ is kind of hokey now. (Hashtag Blessed!) But that’s how I felt when these trees came into my view last week.

After landing at the airport in Los Angeles, Ian and I took the Gold Line to Pasadena. Pasadena is one of our former homes. We lived there for three years, and surprisingly — at least it felt that way to us — it’s approaching nearly three years since we’ve visited. I was grateful to return.

While on the train, Ian and I initially parted ways for just bit. He traveled one stop farther than me so he could go visit his former workplace. Meanwhile, I too was headed to a former workplace, Pasadena Presbyterian Church, but I took the scenic route.

Before heading our separate ways, Ian saw my reaction to these trees. Right before my stop, the train passed Del Mar Blvd. and I got a glimpse of this view. When I saw it, my hands just covered my mouth with a feeling of awe and gratitude.

Every year, these trees bloom for about three weeks in late May and early June. Folks in Pasadena could always count on me to geek out over the annual blooming of these trees. I loved them so much, in fact, that I used to say they were my Petronus Trees. They always felt magical to me.

I stepped off the train and began walking down Del Mar Blvd. with blooming, purple jacaranda trees on either side. This was a really sacred view for me, and with stories attached.

I suddenly felt such a feeling of home. But not one home: Two homes. Of course, these trees are my favorite scenic view of Pasadena, so that was an instant homecoming. But with a lot of depth and memory, they instantly brought me to Ann Arbor too, the home where I live now.

Five years ago, when these trees were blooming in late May and early June of 2013, I was in the midst of an unexpected and desired set of conversations that would invite us to move to Ann Arbor. These jacaranda trees were in bloom on the day I found out about the potential opportunity, and they continued to be in bloom throughout all of those initial conversations. Every single day, I would walk up and down this street accompanied by many purple flowers. As they fell on me and across my pathway, I would dream about what it would be like to move to Ann Arbor.

After all, we had hoped to move to this city for a long time. We had even taken many other walks in Pasadena and talked about that together. “How do we get to the Midwest in general, and if possible, Ann Arbor?” we would ask ourselves. And at the time, that was all about astronomy. But now, we could see opportunities for both of us.

For three weeks, amidst my favorite trees, I prayed and pondered the possibility of a new home. And I especially wondered if there were people I would come to know — people, whom later, I would have a hard time imagining not knowing. I wondered if there were students… friends… mentors… whole communities.

And, of course, there were. As I stood among the trees last week, I pondered particular students… friends.. mentors… whole communities. I felt so grateful to know them.

It’s been two and half years since I visited Pasadena, but I hadn’t seen these trees in bloom since the very weeks I was pondering all of these things five years ago. So I stood there while two homes came together — Pasadena with its trees and its many people I love, and Ann Arbor, filled with relationships of people who now have names.

I just gazed at the entire street, multiple city blocks of purple jacaranda trees. And I felt at home in so many directions.

Renee Roederer

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