Friday, November 19, 2010

I Found My Tree



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

19 comments:

Mary Witzl said...

That is a superb post.

I want to be that tree too: just that little bit different, always a step or two behind the others, savoring the moment and going at my own speed.

nanmarino said...

Thanks, Mary. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels a step behind :)

Stella said...

I just wrote a poem about what kind of bug I'd be, if forced to choose one, but I'd much rather be a tree - an apple tree dressed in soft white spring flowers. Trees are so poetic. Nice post!

anna said...

What a lovely post and a beautiful, evocative question too! I only recently discovered the rowan tree and I think I'd be one of those if I could. Or possibly a maidenhair. Its a lovely thing to ponder - thank you!

nanmarino said...

Stella, I love seeing rows of apple trees in the springtime. Thanks for your comment.

Anna, Your choice of trees made me hop over to google. The rowan tree is completely new to me. And I loved reading about the folklore surrounding it.

MG Higgins said...

What a lyrical, beautiful post. Redwoods are my favorite trees; I consider them family members. But I don't know if I think of myself as a redwood. Hmm....

Alison Ashley Formento said...

Nan,

You must meet the tree I wrote my book about. It's unique and wise and captured my heart just like that tree at WaWa did for you. Thanks so much for this lovely post.

Trees count and so do you!

nanmarino said...

MG, I really like that you consider redwoods family members. We don't have them around here, but there's an oak I feel the same way about. Of course, that gives a whole new meaning to the expression "family tree". :)

Alison, I remember you talking a little bit about the tree that inspired your wonderful book. It sounds like an amazing tree. Isn't it funny how trees have a way of getting to us?

Medeia Sharif said...

What a thoughtful post. I'm attracted to wide trees that have tendrils of vines hanging off the branches--I don't know what they're called. I wonder what that says about me.

nanmarino said...

Medeia,
I think I know the trees you mean. They're found in the south, right? They're wise old trees with an air of mystery about them. Good choice, Medeia. And happy Thanksgiving :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I'm a Forestry Grad, so I'm one of those people who take this question seriously. Love your post and your contemplations!
I'd pick a Tamarack for mine. Doesn't follow the rules - Coniferous that loses its needles, always changing, almost too gorgeous to look at for a brief few weeks, then gets lost in the background. Okay, not sure what that last part says about me, but I love this game.

nanmarino said...

I had to look up this tree too. We have Tamarack trees here, but I never noticed them before. I thought those yellowing evergreens were dying pines. A rulebreaker who is always changing. Those sounds like great qualities, TerryLynn.

Medeia Sharif said...

Yes, they're in the South. And they're ultra-mysterious. :)

cleemckenzie said...

I can't make up my mind on this. There's the lone Cypress that people come to visit in Carmel because it's poised as a solitary survivor in rock and next to the sea. That's quite appealing. Then there's those immense Sequoias that live for centuries without complaint, even when people cut holes in their centers, so they can drive through them rather than around. Last year a peach tree that came from pit and, therefore, was destined to never bear fruit did--lots of it. That was inspiring. Can I be all three, depending upon my mood?

nanmarino said...

Medeia, I like ultra-mysterious :)

Lee, there are no rules. I think you can be as many as you want -- and you made some great choices. I never understood how those Sequoias live with the holes cut into them.

saputnam said...

Great post Nan! But feeling a connection to trees shouldn’t be surprising. According to the late Carl Sagan, "we are a part of them and they are a part of us." When my son who was 5, at the time, watched Cosmos and heard Sagan say that, “trees were our brothers we must take care of them,” he took it to heart and has loved trees ever since.

In Reading when he was just a toddler he found and planted a little Pine seedling in a large whiskey barrel planter and “Piney” followed us from South Reading to Bethel where J planted it in the ground. He was heartbroken when he learned that it was too tall to bring with us to Mount Holly. When we moved to Chester I received 10 Blue Spruce seedlings from The National Audubon Society and J had a tree once again. "Big Blue" came with us to Springfield and is planted on the lawn at the end of the driveway. Every time J comes home from Seattle he has to take a photo of "his" tree.

There are so many trees that I would want to be, but the one that first popped into my mind was a bull spruce standing tall on a ridge line overlooking acres of farmland.

nanmarino said...

SA, I love your story. How great that you named your trees "piney" and "big blue". I like the Carl Sagan quote too. Very nice.

Dana said...

I like the way you see things, Nan. Someone had to appreciate that parking lot tree & you were there for it. That's priceless!

nanmarino said...

Dana,
Thanks. :)
I just popped over to your blog. I heart your thinking chair.