Kids and Trees

Photo by Carl E. Lewis from Flickr Creative Commons

When I was small, mimosas were my favorite kind of tree. For one thing, they were just the right size. I wasn’t athletic and I’ve never had a head for heights, but I could easily “climb” into the low fork of the mimosa in our backyard and stay in my little tree nest for the longest time.

I loved playing with the bright pink flowers and palmlike leaves, too. I’d weave the individual fronds around the central stem of the leaf to create little garlands. I’d wear the flowers in my hair or give them to my stuffed animals. The flowers were not only bright and beautiful, but satisfying to the touch. Slightly sticky, with a feathery kind of feel, sort of like cotton candy.

Mimosas have cool bean pods, too, especially when they’ve dried. By late summer, the ground beneath our tree would be covered with the pale brown pods, just begging for closer examination. They were easy to dissect, peeling readily into two halves. The tiny dark brown seeds thus revealed served in their turn as interesting play objects that could be counted and lined up in various ways. Or you could leave the pods whole and shake them, enjoying the satisfying rattle of the seeds inside. All in all, it was a wonderfully tactile plant, just perfect for a small child.

Seemingly small, a trivial thing, yet I think my play with mimosas was one of the experiences that gave me a deep and abiding appreciation for nature, both its beauty and the companionship it offers.

What was your favorite tree or plant when you were a kid? And why?

Death of a Little Grove

"Arashiyama near Kyoto"photo courtesy of katclay (Flickr Creative Commons)

I took a day off from work today and for a while was in a great mood.

I wrote nearly 2500 words in my WIP, a near-record for me, then took a walk to the post office and drugstore.

It is a beautiful day, a bit on the cool side, but after the record-breaking heat of March that’s fine with me. The cherry trees are all in bloom, the tulips are up, everything is leafing out. Ah, the joy of spring.

Going back from the drugstore, I took a different route home. On my way I passed a house that had seen some changes over the last few months, changes that didn’t bode well.

Last year at this time, the house, a charming little stone cottage, was surrounded by trees. It always made me think of a house in a fairy tale, snugly tucked in its own little miniature forest. The edge of the yard that borders the sidewalk and road was planted with a little row of fir trees, and a new one or two seemed to be added each year. Beyond them, the yard was chock full of other green, leafy companions. I always smiled when I passed it; it was like a little Christmas-tree farm, and I knew a kindred spirit lived there.

A few months ago, we noticed that the lamppost had fallen down. The next time we passed, it was still there, untended. My husband and I wondered about the person who lived there: had they died, been taken ill? I thought of my parents in their last years after my father’s sudden illness. Neither my sister nor I lived in the same town and our visits were too full of care-taking to have much energy left to think about yard work. Something similar had happened here.

All through the winter the lamp post remained like that.

Then today as I passed, I saw the house laid bare. Naked, denuded, alone.

Nearly all the trees surrounding it had been cut down, including two humongous trunks that looked like they had been venerable sycamores. Stacks of wood were piled in the dirt-bare yard. A few straggling little firs were left at the border of the yard, a pitiful remnant but they may be gone, too, the next time. If trees can feel, what must they have felt to have seen the butchering of their elder brethren?

I felt like crying. The wanton destruction cast a pall on the beautiful day.

And I felt rage. I wished for an army of Ents to come down and beat up those responsible.

For laying waste such beauty.

For such blatant disregard for another form of life that gives so much to humanity.

All I can do is bear witness to their destruction.

I wonder if the owner is dead. Or in the sterile confines of a nursing home. My heart goes out to that kindred spirit who loved trees as I do.

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