During a television interview Barbara Walters once asked Katharine Hepburn the infamous question "If you were a tree, what kind you be?" It immediately became fodder for comedians everywhere and spawned an entire industry of Barbara Walters imitators. But it didn't end there. People took the question quite seriously. I even know someone who was asked about her inner tree at a job interview. (Here's some trivia: the great KH answered it by saying she wanted to be an oak, because they were "strong and pretty".)
There's no bad answer. Oaks are strong. Willows are graceful. Pine trees are majestic.You can't go wrong with any of them.
I've never given this question much consideration. But yesterday while I was driving to work, I saw a tree in one of those parking lot gardens next to the local WaWa convenience store and thought "that is so totally me."
There it was, all decked out in its fall color, a beautiful orange red, totally oblivious to the fact that in this part of the country all of the other trees had done this weeks ago. Oh sure, there are a few stubborn leaves clinging to some branches, but that flurry of color is over. All those reds, golds, yellows and oranges have come and gone.
I think there's a hot, sticky day in August when everything changes. Even though it's 101 degrees outside and you're busy planning a picnic at the beach, there's something in the air that makes you want to move on. You start saying things like, "Summer will be over soon." The trees feel it too. If you listen, you can hear them nod.
Except of course for that tree in front of the WaWa. Somehow it didn't get the message. So now while the other trees are going into their slumber mode, this one has its red dress on and is ready to party. And next spring when they're all showing off their pretty yellow buds, WaWa tree will hold tight to its silvery winter look.
And that's the way it will remain. The other trees will move on, slipping into different seasons as fast as a runway model changes outfits. And my tree will always be a few leaf changes behind.
Don't feel sorry for it, though. It will find its own rhythm. Some of us just like to linger.
photo by Petr Kratochv