Just a tree?
Yes. But it was my tree.
Having spent most of my life in the Southwest I purposely sought out a piece of property with trees where I could watch the wonders of nature, up close and personal, without having to live in a log cabin. Though we had both reached adulthood when we first met, we were not done growing. We watched each other’s lives unfold through my kitchen window: budding, blooming, painting ourselves, and throwing away all that we had worked for to start again. There was an understanding between me and this tree that I might never have with another human being. She was my little piece of nature, something to keep me calm and settled, nestled in the middle of suburbia. I may not be Thoreau, venturing into the woods to live deliberately, but I could visit it a little in my own back yard. Even in her older days, with her gnarled branches like witch’s fingers, I loved her.
Maybe I was naive in thinking this relationship could go on indefinitely. Again, I'm from the southwest and cactus live forever. I guess I thought that all plants with any fortitude did too. Pets might get lost, children grow up and leave home, and parents pass, but trees...they are supposed to be ancient and eternal. As the chaotic events of my life unfolded there was always the constant of something as simple as a tree in my back yard. But nothing escapes the hands of time. Not even a tree.
She gave me all she could, every leaf to jump in, every sliver of shade she could muster, and then said goodbye in a thunderous boom. Do you weep for that? Or do you say thank you to nature for the chance to feel connected to her, even in the smallest of ways. Maybe you do both. Joyce Kilmer got it right when she wrote I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. I might be able to write about my tree but I can never do it the justice it deserves. This is humbling.
My backyard looks bigger now, emptier. Maybe I will plant a sapling in her honor one day. I'm not sure yet. Spring will come and I can decide then. For now I will just look out my kitchen window and smile at the memory.