“You think i’m crazy, don’t ya, talking to this tree? Old sister oak. This oak tree been here as long as this place been here, and I ain’t ashamed to tell you I talk to it.And I ain’t crazy, either. It ain’t necessarily craziness to talk to the rivers and the trees…. But an old oak like this one here, that’s been here all these years, it knows more than you’ll ever know. It ain’t craziness, son. It’s just the nobility you respect.” ~ From The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J Gaines.
I have a “thing” for trees. I have pictures and paintings of them around my home. Leaf themed accessories. Fabrics with branches on my windows. An LED lit branch tree that stays up pretty much year round. And nearly all of my body ink is tree centered. I am drawn to trees, deciduous ones especially. The way they grow and age, marking the seasons, and surviving all manner of onslaught. They inspire me.
I know the Buddhists say to be like water, flowing gently, but intently, around obstacles. But if i were to claim a likeness to a force of nature, it would, without a doubt, be a tree.
I’ve seen many seasons. I’ve been stripped of my leaves by wind, and had branches torn from me by gusts, but it never stopped me from keeping on climbing to the sky. I’ve had limbs arch and twist rather than give way to obstacles. I’ve been burnt and survived, tho the rings on my insides show the trauma. I’ve been chopped down, but sprouted again from my roots. I’ve had seasons where my leaves were full of color and splendor, and seasons where my branches were bare, brittle, and coated in ice. But i am still here. And like Miss Jane’s oak, i hold some wisdom, or at least stories, from all i’ve been thru to get where i am.
So i guess it isn’t crazy that people talk to me. Like really talk. Not of the fluff of cocktail parties, but important things: Life, death, experience, beliefs. Maybe they can tell by the lichen and scars on my bark that i will understand. That i’ve been there before and survived. Or maybe because they know an old tree holds so many secrets that it’s a harbor for anything that needs safety. I don’t know. I only know that i am blessed to be a sounding board.
Granted, i’ve many more years to go before i can even approach the wisdom of an old oak. By tree standards, i’m merely a sapling. And tho i have grown some good, strong roots of my own, i, in turn, seek out the ones older and wiser. Again, i am blessed, because i have so many in my life. So many noble, beautiful topiaries. Sleek and graceful weeping willows. Elegant cypress draped in Spanish moss. Colorful and fragrant maples. My life is a grove where the canopy envelops me in its loving arms, sheltering me from the worst of life’s storms. And under my own limbs, seedlings grow into their own solidity and grandeur. And in time, God/Goddess/Universe willing, i will be part of the canopy.
I don’t believe in coincidence. The influence of the Power That Is was definitely in residence when my parents named me Holly. Bright berries and glossy leaves in the throes of winter that belie the sharp and painful edges. It offers birds and other small animals shelter and protection from storms. It can also poison them.
I guess that means that, tho i may contain some wisdom, i also contain some things that, ummm, aren’t helpful. True for us all, i suppose. Even the mightiest oak has a branch or two that probably need to be pruned. Or that’s what i tell myself, anyway. Better that than to think i’m the only tree in the arbor with dead wood. Or thorned leaves. Or poison berries. That would hardly make me a future member of the canopy.
… And that would be sad because, after all the seasons and storms and fires and woodpeckers i’ve survived, it would suck royally to not benefit somehow from the scars.
So here i grow, getting stronger with season, roots getting deeper with each storm. Waiting for the ones who come to talk. They aren’t crazy. It’s the nobility they respect.