“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”-Willa Cather 1913
There is a tree in my fathers backyard that has seen a great deal of life.
For twenty-two years it has tolerated the winters of Kansas. She delights in the gentle snowfalls and stands strong in the heavy blankets of weighted snow during the peak of the harsh season. Her branches turn up in the soft, tinkling of raindrops. In the angry gales of storms, she is a fortress, protecting its trunk and all the creatures that depend on her for shelter.
Over and over during the four seasons, the tree would sprout buds of life in the spring, full leaves in the summer, shed it’s beauty in the fall and stand naked in the winter. But there was a time, last summer, that zapped the tree of its strength. The drought took with it every drop of moisture in the land, from the roots of many trees, and the breath of many lives. It’s devastation was not known until this year.
When the spring came, she tried to sprout the buds of leaves to come but some branches were unwilling. In the summer those that made it produced soft, gentle green leaves to bring shelter to the birds and the trees inhabitants. The upper part of the tree could not and did not produce, no matter how hard it tried. It is bare of beauty.
I’ve noticed the old tree’s unwillingness to try. In the yard, chunks of bark have fallen away. Small and large branches have broken off and scattered the ground. I look up at her and wish it not to die. The birds still count on her to hold their nests. I count on her to offer me shade. The earth depends on her for the oxygen she contributes.
There are a few birds that cling to her branches in the threat of the rainstorm today. They believe in her as I do, we believe in the dying tree.