This is not a sad tale. Not really. There are, however, less than cheery aspects to it. Every year I make a few short side trips to check on this tree. Just to see how it’s doing. Long ago, and there’s no telling how long ago that was, someone unceremoniously took a saw to this decades-old thing. The trunk, left strangely high, has no bark and it gives no sign as to what kind of tree it used to be. Or still is. I say that because if you look at the photos you will see a few scraggly limbs that shoot straight up from the tree’s remains.
And every spring, those few spindly limbs explode with lush, verdant leaves – out of all proportion for the stunted limbs’ height and heft. It’s an amazing thing to behold. I suppose since the trunk was left oddly high it gives those limbs enough of a boost to reach and grab the sun. It shouldn’t really be able to survive, these flimsy limbs. But they do and I can’t wait until they once again unfurl their emerald gifts. The limbs seem to say “take what you must, take what you must, of what I’ve lost . . . but let me retain a bit of what I am.” I wonder sometimes if I’m the only one that sees this. It’s easy to miss such an insignificant thing in life’s hectic pace.
And the scene reminded me of a favorite poem, which I recently rediscovered. One I hadn’t read in years.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves,
then listen close to me . . .
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.”
Photos by Joel Woodard. Poem by Shel Silverstein