As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a weeping willow tree, growing dreamily on some mythical property that I would call my own. My own at least for my fleeting time here on earth, then to be left to the next generation of inhabitants who would call that very willow tree their own. Trees have largely become part of the background these days. In our modern, screen intensive society they are nearly invisible. These heroes of Arbor Day are now little more than things one passes on their way from this place to that. Willow trees however still hold the power to beckon, at least to me. Their presence suggests that whimsy is indeed an ancient art to be witnessed and perhaps revered. Not to say that all fall under the Willow’s spell. No, I’m sure not all, but I do. The waking dream of a willow tree’s branches swaying in the wind calls forth the notion of magic to me. And in this, I know, from overheard conversations that I am not alone.
Have you ever had a dream that you were certain was real? So sure that when you awoke, you rose quickly to confirm that what you imagined during sleep was in fact reality? I have many times. Few of such dreams have involved trees, fewer still have involved the willow. That said, I have had more than a few waking moments when a willow tree transported me to the threshold of a dreamlike state. What is it about the weeping, drifting nature of this particular arborescent giant that inspires fantasy? Having finally planted one in the front yard, I am amazed on a regular basis by the seemingly supernatural power of the breed.
Waking in a stupor after a night of poor sleep or poor decisions I can instantly find myself revitalized by the mere sight of the flowing branches of the tree we at my house have named Willo after my youngest who came by that nickname through some random twist of wordplay with friends. His older brother and I planted it as a gift to him one day while he was away with his companions. Upon returning, he saw the sapling and beamed with knowing.
This whimsical, and now with the passing years majestic tree makes me want to sway along to the wind directed cadence of the natural world that persists in spite of my human agenda. It makes me eager to shake off any negative feelings and fuse with the larger world, with the universe even, to the beat of the ancient rhythm that rules this place. The pulse that has guided the world since long before our coming and will conduct it long after our time to rest has passed.
It’s just a tree, in a yard, in a neighborhood, in a city, in a country, on a planet that has spun for millennia around a sun that has burned for a near infinity of lifetimes. Still, to me, it is somehow something much, much more.