Monday, November 3, 2014

The Courage of Trees

Trees are resilient. People chop at them, build fences through them, and torture them in various ways; still, they drop their seeds and sprout up again. Every year, on the East Coast, I’m reminded again of how much trees give us; when the hills are shimmering with vibrant color, I’m reminded that trees offer shelter, shade, and beauty every day.
           We’re like trees, as every yogi knows. We can stand straight and tall, our roots planted deeply into the earth even when the wind blows, even when insults are hurled our way, even when we face illness, or the death of a loved one, or any number of tragedies. Like trees, we just keep coming back, asking for more. You can knock us down, but we don’t give up easily. Like the tree, we possess the will to live, the will to grow, and the will to spread our little acorns around.
          Long ago, I wrote a story about some trees that the city chopped down in front of my childhood home. My dad, who was an avid tree-lover, retaliated by planting butternut trees where the maples once had stood. Today, those butternut trees tower into the sky, and their butternuts sprinkle the street, no doubt still a headache for the man who runs the street sweeper (who probably is clueless about my deceased father’s long-ago disagreement with the local government). I’ll never forget the pride in my father’s voice when he told me about his idea; and I’ll never forget the pride I felt, knowing that my father cared enough about trees to conjure up such a scheme.
         As winter grows near and the trees shed their leaves in my neighborhood, I look forward to the still, frozen nights when I’ll gaze out my window and see their bare branches arching against the sky. There is an oak tree not far from my house that has been there for more than l00 years. My neighbor has had it lovingly trimmed and cared for over the years (ironically, her father is a tree man too—the kind who actually climbs high up in trees to clip off dead branches).
        Trees serve as excellent examples. They stand tall every day and hardly ever  say “I can’t” or “I won’t” (except perhaps in a terrible storm, when they might be toppled). They may bend and sway, but rarely do they give up of their own accord. They remind us to open our hearts and spread our arms to embrace the world. They remind us to be brave—and not to slump.

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