Trees have always been a special part of my life. I could praise the merits of stately oaks, sugar maples, wild persimmons as well as orchard treasures, even slender sassafras bushes, and many more. But perhaps the cedar stands out in a greater number of my experiences.

A huge cedar stood a few feet from our front porch. Extending from the trunk was a sturdy limb at just the right angle and level to accommodate my rope swing. Among my greatest pleasures was pumping myself or being pushed in the swing.
Directly under where the plank seat of the swing hung was a bare spot in the yard. The grass and dirt were worn down enough to expose small tree roots near the surface, and I would shove off from them with my feet to give me a better start swinging.
Cedar thickets and growth in fencerows were not desirable farming reflections, but we left them alone because they were the start of bigger things to come. Cedars were cut for fence posts because their wood resists rotting better than many other woods. Large trunks were set as strong corner posts and lesser bodies supported barbed wire or woven wire to divide fields and lots. Telephone lines were held up on cedar poles.
The natural oil in cedar made it burn quickly, so it was good to split for kindling fires; not so good to burn in the open grate because it popped sparks dangerously.
Seasoned cedar was easy to carve and it finished beautifully. The grain of the wood gave its unique designs to whatever object it became.
A cedar chest was the prized possession of a family. It was home for special keepsakes of documents, clothing and items meant to be passed down through future generations. Closets lined with pleasant-smelling cedar protected woolens from hungry moths and other insects.
Cedar was cut and split with a froe to make shingles for houses and outbuildings, and properly installed, the shingles turned the rain just as well as modern manufactured roofing materials. For writing, cedar pencils were the best to hold, in my opinion.
Butter paddles were usually carved from cedar. It was lightweight and the sanded surface was very smooth and less prone to sticking to the butter than paddles made from other woods. Cedar was the wood of choice for numerous objects, large and small, and discarded pieces were perfect for just whittling.
My grandmother would break a cluster of fresh needles from a nearby cedar tree and lay it at the end of her ironing board. She would run the flatiron over it every now and then to keep the soleplate slick and free of starch residue.
Many homesteads had a cut cedar with short limbs still on the trunk erected in the backyard. Washed milk buckets, fruit jars and other containers were turned upside down on the limbs to drain and be sanitized in the sun.
Not last on our list, in importance, was the young cedars’ glory as Christmas trees. What would we have done? Pines were not yet plentiful in our neck of the woods. Yes! Praise to the cedar tree.