Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Oak Sapling

I vacuumed the porch and took the desiccated overwintering pots outside. The porch looks inviting now. It's still too chilly to sit out there, but I did anyway. I'm anxious for spring.

I poured a glass of wine, sat in my rocker and surveyed the yard from inside the porch.

It was bare and brown outside, but sunny. The storm door is still on, and the windows are closed tight, so sitting on the porch on a windy April afternoon was comfortable enough. For a while anyway.

As I looked around at the empty gardens and the sticks of naked trees on the hill, I felt such a sense of familiarity. I know every inch of my gardens in detail and every tree in my emerging forest intimately. I have scrabbled in the dirt, kneeled in the deer poop, and tangled with every vine in the woods -- it's all so known to me, even in its dormant state.

I know what it will look like in a few weeks as everything leafs out, I know what I need to tend, I am aware of each plant as its own individual with its own characteristics. I know who came through the winter fine and who needs some help.

A comforting sense of place settled over me. My garden.

Then I looked over to the left and saw a skinny young oak tree, with rusty brown leaves standing out from the brush on the hill. Oak trees, known for their hard, dense wood, are surprisingly whippy when young. They are bendy.

This tree was bobbing and weaving in the wind and, I swear, trying to get my attention.

The day before I had risked limb and life to untangle this sapling from Oriental bittersweet that was strangling it, and from multiflora rose canes that engulfed it. In the process a thorn caught my ear and held me fast -- really, have you ever been held hostage by a rosebush snagging your earlobe? I can't even describe it. There was blood. And a ruined pair of garden gloves, used to sop up the carnage.

But I chopped and hacked and freed the oak sapling from its tormenters and maneuvered the rose thorn out of my ear, with some histrionics.

And then there was the little oak tree, a day later, calling to me, moving and fluttering so I would notice. Thank you. Thank you.

It's not the first time I have had a sense that trees respond to, maybe even communicate with, people. They do.

I have unpotted a tuliptree sapling from its too-small container, untangled congested roots to plant it, and heard it sigh with relief.

I have limbed up the lower branches of a viburnum and it looked so pleased to see its knees, it danced and swayed.

I know, I know. Stop. This is silly.

No it's not.


  1. I always love your words but todays were extra special!! I totally agree with your thoughts and I am glad you shared them - you always make me smile! Karen

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Karen!