As a child in rural Pennsylvania, Jenna’s favorite escape was to run her horse along the wooded trails adjacent to the stable where she spent the bulk of her childhood. With the September breeze on her face, crimson colors of fall would swirl together. Crackling of dead leaves beneath her horse’s feet was a symphony of possibilities and calmness.
But Jenna never knew the names of the trees she passed.
She grew up and away from wooded trails that had become imprinted on her soul. Perhaps all those hours atop horses inspired wanderlust and thirst for outdoor adventure that consumed her early twenties. Eventually, though, she stopped living out of the back of her car. She had college loans and car payments to make.
She became a botanist.
The catalpa tree was the first one Jenna ever knew by name. It was most likely to appear in disturbed areas like old farms. Its presence moved her in a way she couldn’t understand. Its balance between strength and uniqueness rooted Jenna. Within a few years she could finally put a name to the items that filled her with peace. Red maple. Sugar maple. Juniper. Elm. Hornbeam. Spicebush. Green ash. White oak. Sycamore. She didn’t know if she was influenced because the catalpa was the first tree she could identify, or because of its gigantic, startling leaves, or because of its unique seeds that look like snakes the catalpa remained her favorite species. Instead, Jenna simply understood this tree was her favorite. It was her totem for strength.
More years passed and more changes swept over her and one day Jenna and her husband were searching for their first home. Neither of them knew yet that their son had taken root in Jenna's belly. But as they pulled into the driveway of the second-to-last house on the agenda for the day, they reminded one another that based on the pictures on-line they shouldn’t expect much.
The catalpa tree stood just behind the farmhouse built in the 1800s. Jenna’s draw to her totem was like a magnet. Once she reached the massive tree, four more catalpas came into view. They appeared to stand watch over the two-acre yard.
Jenna knew she, Phil, and their beloved dog Hayduke, were home. .
The seasons of Jenna’s life have changed, again, and when it came time to identify a name for her business, Catalpa Dreams stood out as the only logical option. The catalpa tree represents strength, uniqueness and perseverance. In contrast, the notion of a dream represents a whimsical, playful and carefree entity. In joining these two contradicting qualities, Jenna strives to establish the unstoppable force and balance that is associated with strong writing, whether that writing is a memoir, college essay, novel, family history, or something in between.