“When I was born, my parents and my mother’s parents planted a dogwood tree in the side yard of the large white house in which we lived throughout my boyhood. This tree . . . was, in a sense, me.” According to Updike’s Shillington contact, Dave Silcox, John’s mother later corrected him, telling him it was planted on the one-year anniversary of his birth.
In “The Dogwood Tree,” Updike continued with a line that has more resonance today than when he wrote it: “My dogwood tree still stands in the side yard, taller than ever . . . .”
(Photo courtesy of Jack De Bellis, taken in spring 2009)