Monday, July 1, 2013

Birch Tree

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

                                                                 ~ Joyce Kilmer ~

     Two mature silver maples and four evergreens of ours were destroyed in last summer’s storm. It left our back garden looking naked. Lawn was torn up by utility vehicles restoring power. Flowers and shrubbery burned and then withered in the sudden assault of sunlight. The green break was flattened by falling trees, and we could see into our neighbor’s windows at night. We went from a woodland landscape spilling with shade to complete exposure. A wreck. A ruin. A graveyard of buried hopes...

     But in the grand scheme of things, merely a hiccup in the vicissitudes of life.  

     The birch left standing in the front yard has been my comfort. And now, one year later, we have a new, fluttering young tree in the back. So many trees to choose from, and I couldn't resist another multi-stemmed river birch. These trees take some effort. The catkins go to seed and sprout thousands of birchlings in the garden in the spring. During the heat and drought of summer they require extra watering unless they have been planted beside a river. The leaves cover the yard and clog the gutters in the fall, and at every breath of wind, there are the twigs, twigs, twigs and branchlets that must be gathered up before mowing the lawn. I have even begun giving our birches liters of Coke to drink, because a man at the nursery recommended it. 

     Yet, I am hopelessly drawn to birches. The way the wind threshes their branches into fits on a stormy day, or caresses the trembling leaf-locks like a lover on a calm one. The way the hot, bright light of the westering sun is winnowed into shifting shadows on the walls and wooden floors of my sitting room. The delicate flowering of the catkins on the branch tips. The rough, exotic texture of the peeling bark. 

     It will be a pleasure to look out my kitchen window and watch this one grow as the years go by. Isn't it lovely?

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