Few of us ever know the impact we had had on others, or on the world, yet the smallest things can grow into a stream of reverberating goodness. A Tree for Peter tells this story.
Six-year-old Tommy, sitting with his parents, peers out the window of a train bound for the big city. Winding along the river, the train slows as it passes a shantytown, a cluster of sad, old, broken-down and seemingly deserted houses. A small, thin boy dressed in rags stands at the iron fence in the rain and looks right at Tommy, smiling faintly. Tommy smiles and waves back.
This memory opens the book of the grown Tommy, now a builder, on his way to meet the renowned architect, Peter Marsh, who has built hundreds of warm, strong homes for low-income people. As he passes the same stretch he sees a cluster of pretty houses with laughing children, and learns the transformed shantytown is named “Peter’s Landing” after the architect.
When they meet the next day we hear the seldom-revealed story of the outcomes of small actions: lives transformed by the gift of a mall red-handled spade given by a stranger with cheerful and friendly concern.