A LOVE LETTER TO TREES

Perhaps my first tree was the one we played dog-on-wood with.  It was especially useful because of its long roots which permitted you to be “safe” from your opponents.

A close second was a friendly pair of trees on the farm—a pecan tree and a fig tree nestled together and both bore yummy fruit.  I don’t think I’ve tasted fresh figs since the farm.

And oh the mystery of the disappearing wild plum trees!  At least in North Carolina you could walk through any patch of woods and find an abundance of wild plum trees, whose fruit was smaller than in the big stores now, but much tastier, and free!  The last time I saw wild plums was in the bazaar in Istanbul.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own that I ate so many I got hives and required gin to numb my skin so I could sleep.  But where have the trees gone?

Mimosas have always seemed magical to me.  What a fancy tree!  Good for a small child climbing also, I can attest.  Playing tarzan in a mimosa is a favorite memory of mine.

I’ve always been in love with weeping willows, and am in awe of ginko bilobas, even before I read how ancient their line is.  I once had a pin that was really a ginko leaf that had been dipped in gold that shone.  I stepped outside the other day and was overwhelmed to see that the ginko beside the O.U. Credit Union on Shaffer had shed a golden halo all around it, overnight! 

I recall as a child nibbling on long green pine needles for their tart taste,  and I have in my home office a basket full of perfect pine cones. Just to have them, because they’re so perfect.  I love the grain of wood also, had have a collection of both driftwood and wooden flotsam from the Ohio River.  I’d love to make a collage of my collection, but am not sure how to do it artfully.  The picture on the face of my computer is of a marvelous wood collage I copied from the internet.  I’ve included it here, as well as a couple of family photos of special trees.

I’m reminded now of an old man who lived next to us in Charlotte who spent his days sitting in his shady front yard, whittling.  I think the wood he worked on with his pen knife was cedar—at least it was red, and he made many wonderful animals out of the wood.  

I recall now a tree I drive by every couple of weeks. It is very tall and offers shade and branches for the vultures to gather, and a huge hole in its trunk. I always wonder who lives in that perfect animal home, and marvel that the tree still manages to thrive despite its roomers.

I’ve always thought I wanted a weeping cherry in my yard, but during a  sale one day I purchased not the lovely tree of my dreams, but for some reason—probably the price—I took home and planted an unfortunate tree, the poor dear. It did not grow pretty, though it stands in the yard at 305 E. State, from which I have moved.  The owners of the house tore down my newly hung flowery wallpaper, but have let the dear unprepossessing tree thrive in their front yard.  Do you think trees have feelings?

If they do there must be a lot of them proud all over town this season.  I can’t help oohs and ahhs at the sight of the celebrating trees.  It’s good to see many neighbors enjoying the flush of cherry blossoms during their season.

There’s something mythical about stalwart trees.  Once long ago lightning struck a big tree in our neighborhood, and I was moved to trek to it with my children and recover a small blackened portion of its remnants.  It was a primitive feeling, that the heavens had selected that one to touch.

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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