Ghost Trees

I thought I’d missed the ghost trees this year. Their white flowers flicker off in the woods before the oaks start leafing out. They catch the corner of my eye as I drive down State Road. Spring is coming, they say.

Spring was surely coming, in a riot of first yellow then purple, but I hadn’t seen the ghost trees. I’d missed them for sure.

But I hadn’t. They’re here.

shad 1

My ghost trees have many names, shadbush, serviceberry, and amelanchier among them. “Shadbush” because they bloom when the herring (shad) are running. Are the herring running?

shad 2

There’s nothing ghostly about the ghost tree at the foot of my outside stairs. Maybe it’s a shadbush? Whatever it is, spring is most definitely here. I’m wearing a T-shirt, and the front door is open.

shad bush

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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3 Responses to Ghost Trees

  1. tompostpile says:

    Jim Athearn is always very careful to never say “shadbush”. He says the correct old Vineyard name is “wild pear”, and that’s what we here should be calling it. We don’t have shad here.


    • Do they make pears? (Typed “Do they fruit pears?” then wondered if “fruit” should be verbed this early in the morning.) I had it in my head that shad was another name for herring but just learned that they aren’t the same thing. Maybe I will keep calling them ghost trees.


  2. Shirley says:

    Yes – it was always an occasion when the shad bushes finally bloomed which meant the herring were running and Johnny would get a mess, cut out the roe and use the carcasses for lobster bait. There was nothing better for breakfast than scrambled eggs, bacon and herring roe – alas, taking herring is now illegal, and I haven’t had any for years…..


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