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April 5, 2011

Last fall, Chris and his friends took out a bunch of scrub from the jungle in the creek bed behind our house which was great fun, especially the burning of it. We’ve left the space largely open — there are a couple of mature elms back there, and ground cover, and my plan is to put in a garden, slowly, including ornamental trees about the same size and shape as the scrub we hacked out, only pretty. In mid-October, I found some large-ish Mexican plum trees on sale at Home Depot, so I bought six. We put two out front, two on the shadier terraces, and two down in the jungle.

They immediately lost their leaves. They didn’t go through fall foliage; the leaves just turned brown and fell off.

Over the winter, we pruned them and strung them with bright blue LED Christmas lights. Scraggly trees with lights on them look as silly as you might picture, but they were fun, and I like trees. When they started to bud, we took the lights off of them and crossed our fingers, hoping for blossoms.

Two of the trees bloomed on the tips of a total of seven blossoms.

I was disappointed. I’d hoped for a bloom, and I got a paltry few flowers.

Then they leaved out. And leafed out some more. And then they started to grow.

We can measure the change in the trees’ growth daily. I know that they won’t continue their rate of growth throughout the growing season, but it’s astonishing, and reminds me why I like my garden. My new trees have gone from wretched to beautiful in three weeks. It’s glorious.

It’s because they spent all winter growing roots underground. Trees do that.

I’d like to be able to take this post and talk about how I’ve also been able to put down roots here in Dallas, despite the fact that I’ve been so sick and wretched, although at no time during my cancer journey did I ever wear bright blue LED lights from Wal-Mart. But I’m not a tree, and I don’t put down roots.

I move.

I get up and I take my big stupid dog for a walk by the lake so I can see the water and the reeds and the birds, and I can feel safe because she does look like a wolf and she would rip the face off of anyone who tried to hurt me.

I have coffee with my friends, except that I gave up coffee for Lent, so I have herbal tea and try to feel smug about it, but fail, because I don’t much like herbal tea. I should switch to steamed milk.

I shop, some, but not much, because my resolution for this year was to buy nothing for myself, and I’ve kept it except for one thing, a necklace I love.  I go to the movies, often by myself.

I go to the art museum.

The metaphor likening a woman to a tree, drawing upon the earth and reaching to the sun and sky is a lovely one. I see it a lot, and it’s a fine image, but it’s not me.

It’s the opposite of me.

I don’t draw strength from staying in one place.

I draw strength from change, open spaces, from moving, from learning. I’m not a tree. I like trees, though, and I’m glad I had the forethought to plant a bunch of them last fall.

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  1. This reminds me of Dolly Parton’s song, “Wildflowers”. ❤

  2. peter schaar permalink

    If you suddenly feel like not being alone sometime during the day, or in the evening, give me a call. If I’m not home, my cell is [OMG PETER DO NOT PUT YOUR CELL ON THE INTERNET!] (I edited your post. <3)

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