Friday, April 17, 2020

A Wise Woman

By our pond the river birch resists a borer,
grows without applause for shows,
releases catkins, curls her bark, gets older —

knows when it's time to let things go.

There are so many beautiful and unique trees on our property, but I think my favorite so far is the river birch. It has a quality of quiet the other trees don't. This quiet is much needed right now, and was last year as well when we moved here and my mother was dying. Last spring when I was panic researching the types of trees I was seeing with the Audubon Guide to Trees, I gave up on the wych elm, which beguiled me with its strange, early leaves that looked like alien hairdos. Even a visiting arborist shrugged over it. I identified it later by downloading an app, and felt like I'd cheated. But that day, in my disappointment, the river birch beckoned for me to sit and and just be. It had let go of a lot of the little branches in a recent windstorm, and I got a sense of calm from being under it, looking up at the clouds and a twinkle of glossy leaves. It is somehow both shaggy and stately, like a wise woman. I find her branches after storms, little reminders that it is good to let go, to allow for new growth.

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