I ran into a neighbor on the avenue the other day. It was good to see her and her dog. She said she'd heard about the tree in my yard and was heading that way to see for herself. She's as starved for the human experience as I am. And yes, the tree really is something to see.
It's been here longer than the two and a half years we've lived in the house. In fact, it's been a source of discussion between my husband and me. He doesn't mind the constant stick-like tendrils that fall. He mows the lawn. He doesn't think it stops the growth of his precious grass. Mowing, he calls it his meditation.
Why am I always looking for something better? More authentic? Right? As if I have something to prove.
My husband listens to my plans. He rarely comments when I talk about replacing the aging deck with a "living space" of patterned concrete. He doesn't wince when I talk about replacing a deteriorating bay window with french doors. And yes, do away with the weeping cherry and plant a classic magnolia tree. He has reserved the right to stay silent.
After my walk past shuttered stores and restaurants, I returned home to an isolation I know is right to do. Social media tugged at me almost immediately. It's had that effect these days.
My neighbor posted a picture on Facebook of the tree in my yard. No comment, just the picture of the tree. Were there no words for the tree? My neighbor is usually quick-witted. Was she so astounded by the tree's beauty?
Maybe I should rethink this thing. Maybe.
There've been a few warm days recently so I took the old metal lawn chairs that I painted a bright sunny yellow and put them out under the tree with a commitment to sit and read, sit and write, sit and wait.
Funny thing how a little attention can change a person's mind.
People seem to need to walk late afternoon and into dusk. I watch the expressions on faces as they take in the tree's blooming presence. A few will stop and tell me how astounding the tree is. Others pass by with a nod of the head, a smile.
I'd love to take credit for this little bit of joy in people's lives when so much of the world stagnates with fear and anxiety. But the tree has become more of a gift to me than any other.
When we attempt to normalize our lives again after this time of slowed, simple living, will I want to cut the weeping cherry tree down for something better? I rather think not.
I'll remember this time. A time when I sat waiting for people to pass by, to see the looks on their faces, to hear the accolades for the beauty of the tree and cherish the knowledge that the tree served me and my need for human contact.