When we first planted the tree, if I straightened her drooping tip she barely peaked at the height of my hip.
We argued about the best spot for some hours (taking into account the complexities of sun and shade and garden aesthetics and who knew best and so forth) before finally settling it for all time with a hole dug over there by the shed.
Over the many seasons since, she has thrown a spray of wood tracer lines that thickened and branched, slowly lifting her green canopy each spring by each summer until well above our roofline. Her larger roots can now be seen making tree-time slow serpentine undulations out into the grass.
Kelly tells me she is a Zelkova Serrata, or perhaps not. She’s not quite sure…and the plastic name tag fell off long ago, just before I shredded it into anonymity with the lawnmower.
“A woman sits on the ground, leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back, as hard as life. Its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things, in words before words.”― Richard Powers, The Overstory
Here’s the thing.
I have cultivated an affinity for this particular tree. An affection if you like. She speaks to me. And I find myself checking on her most days with a good morning or a good afternoon or a geez you’re looking particularly spectacular today (mostly said in near-silent whispers so as not to appear to our neighbours as some woo tree-hugging looney). Occasionally I might pat her trunk for mutual reassurance.
Conversations go like this: Kelly… her leaves are about to change, just look at those cool colours.
Kelly… don’t you think she looks like a really happy tree?
Kelly, remember when we planted her and argued about the spot…now look at her..I was right after all no?
Kelly… If you are looking for me I’ll just be sitting out under the tree for a bit.
This is all perfectly normal behaviour. Right?
Kelly shows me a picture on her iPad. Also known as ‘Green Vase’ a type of Japanese elm…that may reach a height of 50 feet! Holy crap, she exclaims. I think we may have screwed up.
No. You go girl. Live your best tree life. 50 feet and beyond. We can build a giant treehouse (with a rope swing) and live out the remainder of our days high above the vicissitudes of ground-dwelling life. I grab the iPad to search for tiny home tree house plans.
This is still normal. Right?