When we moved into this house in January 2004, this tree was a short little fellow. The photograph below is November 2003, when we began looking at the house as it was under renovation. You can make out this tree as the tiny little stick with no leaves, just to the right of the window, barely visible through the magnolia leaves. (Note: not to be confused with the taller stick at the bottom of the picture, where as he was wont to do with everything, Will left his shovel sticking in the ground.)
The first year it bloomed, my friend told me it was a redbud tree. Not being from Mississippi but from dry northwest Texas, I had no frame of reference and never questioned it. A few weeks ago, when I posted signs of spring, Katie asked if it was a maple. I responded with what I had been told: redbud. When I began looking, although when it first began to bud out it seemed similar enough to pictures of redbud trees, the more this tree cycled, I was questioning that. (Thank you Katie! I am always willing to admit I am wrong, or might be wrong. I hope it makes up for other traits that may not always be my best side.)
As time passed and I watched the cycles from bud to bloom to fruit to leaves, that part of me that hungers to understand what I do not kept thinking: is that really a redbud? I kept looking at photographs, and searching Mississippi trees and coming up with zero. Yesterday, I located a site from Mississippi State University that was a supplement for tree identification: bark, leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit. I carefully examined the leaves that were now clearly defined and began to search the text. Voila! Right there under species of maple: the boxelder maple. The accompanying photographs convinced me this is a boxelder, a rapidly growing species often found in Mississippi. From there, it was simple to find pictures that confirmed it.
While I am cautious to a fault when posting, I have been known to err. I am also quick–once I know, to correct said errors. I think of it as evidence of the developmental model: development never ceases as long as we are open to examining our thinking.