I do not know who planted that tree just outside my window.
It is not a native tree, so some human person had to specifically decide to plant that particular tree in that particular place. Bred in captivity and forced into the rocky hillside soil of my front yard. Sweet tree with a sadness she cannot ever quite place, I suppose.
I have been told that this tree species is not hardy, yet here she remains standing after the 13 ½ years I have been in this house looking outside of this window, while plenty of other trees have not withstood the trials of those same years. Ice, snow, wind, tornadoes, hurricane winds, little girls, little boys, bears, deer etc. She is still trying to be herself and continues to grow.
There have been two occasions when I thought she was lost to us. After hurricane winds came through one year, she lost a few branches, one of which was an offshoot twin trunk at her base. When neighbors came to help with yard clean up (many other trees were completely felled and needed chainsaws for removal), they offered to remove her as well.
She was in bad shape, they said. She was going to rot from the inside out and fall over anyway, they said. She was not even a native tree and was misplaced in the yard, they said.
Without hesitation I declined their offer feeling sure that she would be okay and should be given the chance to prove them wrong. Or maybe it was my own vanity at wanting to prove their chainsaw wielding asses wrong. Some might say I occasionally present with unpredictable stubbornness – allegedly.
I liked her and I did not appreciate the way they were so cavalier about cutting her down when she obviously still had life left in her. If she rotted and fell, then so be it, but I wanted her to have a chance.
Fast forward a few years later, add a significantly terrible ice storm followed by hurricane force winds, and my lady tree was truly devastated. All of her thick sturdy long limbs below about 20 feet of her height, had been forcibly ripped from her trunk, leaving nasty splintered painful gashes all around her. Other trees in my yard were completely felled by the storm and lost.
There was too much damage to rely on the generosity of neighbors this time, driveways were blocked, the public road was blocked. Thankfully the county came and removed the giant 30 foot pines that fell onto the road (I am on an essential emergency route – phew). Professionals had to come in and handle the other significant tree damage in my yard on my little hill in the woods. When I recovered from the heart attack inducing cost estimate, resigning myself to that expensive reality, I saw my damaged sorrowful non-native lady was included.
I agreed to all of the work the professionals proposed – including complete removal of my lady. She had retained a smattering of her original beautiful old limbs at the tippiest top of her. The rest of her looked like a slightly oddly bent-curved bare telephone pole. After signing the contract, I went back inside the house to take one final look out of the window at my lady. The top of her held so much promise – she really was reaching and stretching for her bit of sky and sunshine. I lost my resolve and immediately went back outside to tell the contractors to please not remove her. Please leave her there. Just clean up her broken limbs and leave her bare trunk with the shaggy top. I felt that there was some life remaining in her.
If she truly was not hardy, as they were telling me, then her top heavy trunk would fall in its own anyway and I could have her naturally felled remains cut to manageable pieces and pulled into the woods then. But, not today when she still had some life. For a few years she looked very odd with no lower branches plus a shock of green on top. But this year, as I look out my window, I see so many swirling baby twiglet branches finally coming out of her trunk. She is more than alive, she is resilient and thriving!
Even through this unusual mild winter, my old grand lady willow was unable to stay alive due to another wicked ice storm, yet this non native broken stripped bare tree is still standing and providing a home for birds, flowers for bees, and a bit of shade for the moss and worms. I like her and I am glad that she is a lovely brilliant fighter.
Love, Ms Herisme xoxo