Monday, June 24, 2013

The Story Behind the Name

Cauley models one of her best-selling drawstring bags, perched in our Thinking Tree.

The gnarled limb was the perfect shape for a seat. The climb over to it was a bit precarious—I still remember that first adrenaline rush when I finally mustered the courage to take my foot off of the solid branch below and trust my arms. My heart beat wild as the bark dug into the crook of my elbow where it was hooked tightly around the “armrest” of what I imagined to be an exotic throne. Eventually, I mastered the maneuver with a book tucked under the arm that had once clung cautiously. Cauley's “throne” was on a slightly lower, more accessible limb.

“I like this spot better than yours.” she'd say decidedly after declining the half-invitation-half-dare to cross that daunting distance, “I like it better because it has this little baby branch growing out of it. It needs me to take care of it. Do you see it, Shelby?”

I saw it, but still thought my spot was better. Cauley tenderly nursed and sang to that baby branch as the summer rolled by, protecting it from the chubby grasp of our little brother who was in danger of crushing it as he made his first nervous journey up.

The verdant berries that lead us to mistakingly refer to our fortress as a “chinaberry tree” hardened into black hulls, then split open to reveal a cluster of pure white beads. Cauley and I thought that it looked as though our tree were donning a wedding gown. Our little china tallow then exchanged it's gay canopy of green for brilliant hues of scarlet and yellow laced with brown. The splintery bark made runs through the new gloves which we were delighted to wear during the first cold snap of Fall, as we pulled ourselves up to enjoy the rare autumnal colors that graced our yard. Before long, the tallow began to drop leaves which we mound into piles over the roots that ran on top of soil. “Just in case someone falls.” I explained to my siblings when they grumbled at the idea, without a thought of what would've happened had we lost our balance in the summertime.

adorable plush owl nests just above our imaginary "throne room" of yesteryear

Cauley's baby branch was among the first to lose it's leaves.

“I think it's dead.” She declared with deep emotion.

“Maybe you touched it too much.” Said I, ever ready with some wise-sounding explanation.

We were banned from playing on the tree during the Winter, when the strengthening sap had been withdrawn from the brittle limbs.

“Just wait 'til it has some green on it again. Then I'll test the branches and let you know when you can play on it again.” Dad promised.

In due time, the butterflies had emerged again and played among long green tassels that hung from the tallow where young leaves formed thick bunches. As soon as we were allowed, Cauley and I excitedly pulled ourselves up to our atmospheric palace. Imagine the delight that shone in my sister's eyes as she discovered that her baby branch was putting on new leaves!

“Okay, but I still think you shouldn't touch it as much this time because I've heard that can kill 'em.” I instructed.

It was one of those picturesque experiences that should have a place in every childhood: sisters spending lazy blue-sky summer days in that perfect treetop spot where we're compelled to peek through the dancing leaves and exclaim in wonder, “you can see everything from here!” Barefeet dangling carelessly as we crunched the apples that we pretended we'd picked whilst defending our decision to change our favorite animal or planning our next birthday party. Hauling our library books in backpacks to “do a little studying.” It was there that I penned in a green spiral a short story about a troop of Girl Scouts who were sent on a dangerous mission by the King of France. It involved crocodiles. It was my first written piece and, to me, it was quite the thriller.

As the Summers passed and our imaginative games became fewer and farther between, we began to claim the limbs of that tree as the special place we went “just to think.” There we could have a peaceful place to ponder and pray. And, of course, this is how our beloved Thinking Tree got its name. The books we hauled up got thicker and our arms became stronger. Pretty soon, there was not one branch which could support our weight left unclimbed. (Even one branch that couldn't support weight let me know it the hard way. Despite the fact that the season hadn't yet afforded a cushioned landing, I escaped with little more damaged than my pride.) Our conversations matured from planning our birthday parties to planning what we would do once we grew up.

from our bedroom window
And grow up we did. The Thinking Tree's growth was slower than ours, and it wasn't long before our spacious throne room was too crowded for the both of us. I could no longer fit comfortably in my spot and Cauley's baby branch had grown so thick and full that it shielded us from each other, rendering conversation difficult anyway.

These days, much of the conversation that used to take place among the leaves of the Thinking Tree now happens in its shade, for this tree stands just beyond the big window of the bedroom we share. We still enjoy gorgeous silhouette leaves against the deep azure of evening and marvel at the glorious display of autumn colors while sipping pumpkin spice lattes in bed. We still talk about the future, trading childish dreams for Kingdom-advancing pursuits, often wrestling over decisions and contemplating what kind of consequences our choices will have for posterity.

Our business was conceived during these kinds of conversations and designed at a blue writing desk that looked toward the Thinking Tree. We decided to name the business to be reminiscent of the days of childhood, a time when play was exhilarating and we looked toward the future with wonder-filled eyes, a time when we first made the discovery that 
life is beautiful.


  1. This was beautiful! You have a way with words that I can't describe. I love the name.

    My sisters and I never had a thinking tree, but we have our little pink bedroom that faithfully holds all our heart to heart talks and future plan making in it's walls.

    Thank you for sharing this! I really like that last photo. It's gorgeous.

    Blessings in you business,

    1. A little pink bedroom. <3 That's perfect.

      Compliments from *you* on a photo?? :D If anyone wants to see "gorgeous", they should go to your photography blog. I spent a good while just scrolling through it the other day.