LUMBERTON — It may not depict the face of the Virgin Mary, but Virginia Greene and her daughter Kristi say they wouldn’t blame people for lining up to take a look at what they call s “miracle tree” in their back yard.
“We’ll start charging,” Virginia said jokingly.
A silver wax myrtle that Virginia harvested from nearby woods and planted in the yard about 14 years ago was knocked flat by a snowstorm that hit Robeson County two weeks ago. But during Friday’s tornado warning, winds of nearly 70 mph stood the tree back up, the Greenes said.
“It once was fallen but it has risen again,” Kristi said. Not only is the tree standing, it has also turned around so that it now faces the opposite direction.
“Now she likes this side better,” Kristi said, referring to her mom, who is known in their Ridgefield Drive neighborhood for her green thumb. The tree is about 20 feet tall with several thick branches growing just as wide. One of the branches remains on the ground, but the Greeenes plan on leaving it there to see what happens.
So how do the Greenes explain their miracle tree?
“You don’t, he does,” Kristi said, pointing towards a blue sky.
“The Lord knows how much I like my trees, so he put it back up,” she said.
The tree was toppled during winter storm Pax, when snow and ice caused one of the trunks to snap and the tree to fall in the direction of the house.
“Kristi saw it first and she came back in and she said “Momma, you’re going to be sad, your tree out there is on the ground with ice and snow,” Virginia said. “And I didn’t even come out here maybe until the next day.”
Virginia had planted the tree to shade a pen where their dog, Sugar Bear, now lives.
“It’s actually one of my cherished trees because I had trimmed it all up and it’s silver,” Virginia said.
The Greenes asked their neighbor, Benton Nance, a former highway patrolman, to haul the fallen tree off and put it out of mind.
Then, after the wind subsided late Friday afternoon, Virginia went to feed Sugar Bear.
“I got out here and I thought ‘well, Nance came out here and took the tree to the woods,” Virgina said, explaining she thought she was looking at a nearly identical, smaller tree that sits behind her miracle tree. “… I actually had to stand out here a few minutes just to get my mind back in the right gear.”
When she realized the tree was still there, she let Kristi discover it on her own because she wanted to see her reaction.
“I stood here and I looked at her and I said “Momma, how did you get that tree back up? Because that’s the kind of person she is,” Kristi said.
When Kristi told Nance about the tree, he thought she was lying. A neighbor who stopped by after hearing what happened examined the tree from different angles and distances, practically speechless.
“I would’ve liked to be a little bird sitting on [Sugar Bear’s] cage when that tree rose up,” Kristi said.
For now, the Greenes will leave the tree as is, taking its resilience as a good omen for them and their home.
“I just hope it lives, I’ve just got a good feeling,” Virginia said.