I stand here now in shades of brown and gray, the somber colors of winter. She whispers to me to be patient, it is not time for green. My rugged bark encases my essence, the heavy sap that pools deep inside. Each season has it’s own personality and winter is a quiet time of hibernation. I nod and doze and watch. And wait.
Proud and insolent, the pine trees chatter to one another, congratulating each other on their green superiority. They think we are jealous and envy them. They fail to remember our rich summer foliage and the flames that shock the hills in autumn. The wind comes and they must bend with it, green but weak. They are too insignificant to matter. And they wouldn’t know how to wait.
Yesterday a tree fell. We could hear it in the forest behind us. Others tried to help and held out their branches but he only took them with him as he dropped. Birds quickly took to flight, deer ran for the safety of the meadow, the ground shook and then silence. He was an old tree, ready to go but he reminded us of our mortality. All we can do is wait.
I stand close to the road and watch the people drive by. Come spring they will press their face to the window to see my beauty. In winter they just pass by. No appreciation for my imposed rest which will make a glorious spring. I nod off and in my dream I can feel the warm sap begin to rise, my branches pulling it to fill the waiting buds. The beginning of the green season. Then I wake to gray and muddy white. I bide my time and wait.
Yesterday a young couple were walking in the forest and stopped at my feet. They disagreed about which side the moss should grow on. They missed so much. If they just looked closely they would see the delicate frilled edges, the lovely shades of green. They could also look overhead and see the busy woodpecker stop to watch them. And the cardinal couldn’t help but splash his color against the leafless shrub. It would only take a moment but they hurried on. They had never learned to wait.
The wind comes and prunes my dead branches. They lay among the fallen leaves which cushion the forest floor. Small movements and soft sounds come from beneath where it is warm. High in my branches there is a nest and every spring it is filled with chicks. I worry that the wind will take it too. The deer pick their cautious way among the forest litter and startle at even the lightest sound. The creatures I watch all year stay very still during the winter. They have no choice but to wait.
Every year winter brings it’s own treasures if you stand and watch. And dream. I dream of sunshine and warm rain, the pleasure of the wind moving my leaves, returning robins hopping and searching for worms, finches, sparrows, all spend moments among my leaves. The blackbirds coming in clouds – I live intimately with the birds. And the wildflowers each take their turn spring and summer, blooming at their own times. The fawns hidden by their mothers in my dappled shade. The woodpecker inspecting and cleaning my bark. And all around me new life. And so I nod and doze and dream. I remember and am content to wait.
Contributed by Beverly Meredith