She looks so cold. The gray blue sky behind the squiggles of branches reminds me of something out of a horror movie. Cold pale skin and blue veins. Her arms reach out, extending her fingers, grasping for something. Reaching. Maybe it’s my mood that has turned this symbol of nature into a forlorn creature. Maybe it’s the lack of sunshine, the long gray days of winter, and the temperatures so cold that every breath is made visible. Maybe it is getting to us both.
Even though she looks as if there is nothing left but a crooked body of wood and sticks, there is still life inside her. She has had to retreat deep, deep within to protect herself from the biting and frigid winter. I wonder if she is restful during this time, like a long winter’s sleep. I imagine it would be peaceful to simply be still for so long, to simply observe. I wonder if she is happy with the change of seasons or sad when all her hard work falls to the ground come autumn. I believe she knows her precious leaves come back to her in the end. Each year they nourish the ground at her feet and return infused within the new life, becoming a collection of memories. They will always be a part of her story, for one chapter can not exist without the other.
I can envision her roots far beneath the frozen ground. I imagine it is exhausting come spring to find the right amount of water and nourishment from the ground, always having to search deeper and deeper into the unknown. I wonder how many obstacles have been in her path; a cement wall, another tree, or maybe a rock have all caused her to pause and redirect. Yet she has never given up. Her sheer size is a testament to her desire to keep on living, to keep experiencing all that surrounds her. She knows her part. She knows she is needed. She knows her life and our lives are connected, but she fears we may have forgotten. It is her only sadness.
I can find no rhyme or reason to her growth. She appears undoubtedly erratic. She moves from here to there. She tries this way and that. Maybe it breeds more life, maybe it doesn’t. Her moves are fearless. In this bare, uncovered state, it is easy to see her life, her choices, her successes, and her failures. Here I can clearly see the newest of life was only birthed from the journey taken before it. I can see her healed wounds and where she let go so the rest could live. I can see the direction that makes her happiest, the direction in which she thrives. I think she knows. I think she knows as a whole, in her entirety, she is truly magnificent.
Every spring is a rebirth. A chance to begin again. A chance to grow and expand. The more she dives deep into the ground, the more places her branches can reach. There is so much she is needed for. Every branch, every stem is waiting. The very air around her is waiting. They are waiting for her love and support. But for now, it is her time. Her time to rest after years and years of growth and survival. I feel she is at peace. I can feel her graceful stillness, her wisdom. Her message from the summer’s breeze still rings hauntingly in the air. Like a wind chime far, far away, I can almost hear the rustling of her leaves. She wants us to grow and to make mistakes. She wants us to thrive and to rest. She wants us to remember to be still, to stop and listen, and to breathe. To just breathe.
Photo courtesy of D. Campbell.