I’ve always loved trees. I can remember as a child a tiny palm tree my Dad planted in our front yard in Pomona California. Many, many years later when my sisters and I had all left home, Dad sold that property and some builder bought and moved that tree which was about 75 feet tall by then, having guarded over us as we all grew up in that California style ranch house, it’s long porch covered in ivy.
My eldest sister planted two peach pits in a pot and they rooted. Not sure if they would do that today with all this GMO nonsense but at that time, they did. They became two huge trees producing some of the loveliest peaches I have ever had. One produced freestone peaches so large my Mom had to slice them to get them into a jar for canning. The other peach tree produced small cling peaches she used to pickle and can. I still love pickled peached to this day. Can’t find them anywhere. Guess I’ll have to can my own. It’s not going to happen.
A few months ago, we had to have a gorgeous, majestic “monkey puzzle” tree cut down in our front yard. It was one of three left in town and was about 80 feet tall. Its history began in South America where one of our founding fathers brought it by ship to our ancient little town. It caught a virus and had to be chopped down. It was a sad event in our lives as well as others in the community who also miss it. Unfortunately, we tried to save it but without success and believed it was the wise thing to do rather than having it fall on our house. Oh, I hate decisions like that and out of respect, did mourn that fabulous tree. It was probably planted in the late 1800’s when our home was built.
Christmas trees have always held a soft spot in my heart from my early childhood when my Dad insisted a tree wasn’t decorated until it had about 5000 aluminum foil icicles dripping from its branches. Occasionally I have shared some of my Christmas tree stories with you and I have many because my dear spouse and I could never agree on the size of a tree at the tree farm. He always worried about scratching the car to get it home and feared I would pick a giant Sequoia that would touch our fourteen-foot ceilings. He was just kidding about the Sequoia part but I do love a large tree. If my husband ever develops a hernia; it’s my fault. I loved the years I owned a special little blue Mustang convertible and we just popped the top down to get the annual tree home from the tree farm. It disappoints me to have to admit we are now, in our somewhat advanced years, using a small artificial tree but the rest of the house is also festooned with tiny trees, Santa’s and angels.
We, of course, have trees all over this beautiful state of Oregon where we’ve lived these last 21 years. We also have a view of many more gorgeous majestic forests just across the Columbia River in Washington state. I don’t know what it is about a tree, their intricate design is such an awesome example of God’s handiwork, and as such seems to demand respect and awe.
I have sometimes pondered how very like trees we humans can be. Please let me share with you those thoughts in this poem. Enjoy.
THE LEANING TREE
I was once a sapling
No, I didn’t say a sap;
Brightly new, tenderly green
Like a gift without it’s wrap.
Straight and true all day
Leaning toward the sun
Always back to upright,
When each day was done.
Like all things fresh and young
Feared no disease or age,
Except to eagerly accept
Each birthday’s turning page
I took it all for granted
As if it would always be,
Until a storm with winds
Grasped and tore at me.
Roots long undisturbed
Came from the family tree,
Twisting and hurting
Treating me like mere debris.
I began to feel each slash
Each branch began to sway
My bark once protective and thick
Began to fall away.
I thought I deserved much more
Apparently life did not.
Brains, accomplishments and beauty
Obviously, all for naught.
Nature, once my friend,
Placed roots, holes in my path
Every act or duty, for me,
Now held much aftermath.
I looked upward at the blue
And shouted, “Life can’t be this hard!”
Then along would come another storm
Leaving me more battle scarred.
“This isn’t what I had in mind,”
I grieved each falling leaf,
As each animal in the forest
Came by to take relief.
“Now look, I’m tired of this,
I can’t take much more,”
I wailed into the wind
Knew not whom to implore.
Then a soft voice blew into me
And said, “I hear you tree,
Do you think I don’t have care?
To listen to your plea?
“I’ve heard every leaf you dropped,
Every flake of bark you’ve lost;
I saw the creatures relieve themselves
For we all pay the cost.
“Because you are a part of this
Life’s not springtime and buds,
It’s also blazing sun, icy winds
And cold harsh winter floods.
“You trees all think you’re special
And in your way, you are
But that doesn’t mean exemptions,
You each get to be bizarre.
“Don’t the birds still rest upon you,
Their song reverberating your core?
Don’t wildflowers bloom in your shade,
Ferns, trusting you with their spore?
“I know your concern for changes,
The ones you’ve had to endure
But you need to recall, you silly stick
“You’re no longer straight and tall,
You’ve begun to bend and break,
But you are a creature of mine
Which means you’re no mistake.
“I will always be here
And you can trust in me.
You just have to let it go;
Become a leaning tree.”