The Tree

Choose a tree, any tree in the forest. Now know, that something happens in that tree every day that you know nothing of.     <Zen Proverb>

As I sit at my desk daily, watching the world pass me by from the window that is my opening into the world, there is one feature that dominates the view. The tree. It’s a huge old pine with boughs heavily laden with growth. It towers 35 feet above the gently sloping field it is firmly rooted too. I’ve watched as strong winds battered and made the ancient pine dance in the breeze as it groaned and creaked its song against the symphony of the wind. I have watched the winter’s snowfall weigh the branches down, the lower most branches touching the ground with their verdant green needles. The winter birds nestle in its branches and sing their sweetly cold songs when the silence of the first snowfall of the year covers the land in a white blanket.

It crosses my mind from time to time, of what that tree would say, could trees talk. What stories would it tell? I don’t know how to tell how OLD the thing is, I’m no arborist. But I imagine it is at least 100 years old. It’s a HUGE tree…so I’m just guessing. But what would

The Giant Green Picket in my back yard (photo by the author}


it have seen in those hundred years on the hill? What changes would the woody sentinel have bore witness to? It might have seen the first car rumble down what was then a dirt lane through Harpers Ferry. It would have watched as the increase in automobiles brought cobblestones and then a paved street. through the town.  The tree would have stood witness to marvels and advances in technology. The green giant would have watched silently as the town’s feeble torchlit streets changed to the pale glow of gaslight and then to the modern brilliance of the halogens that not brighten the dark West Virginia nights. It would have heard the fussy warbles of the old phonographs as they echoed through the days and night. It would have heard it give way to Marconi’s marvel, the radio. Do you think the tree laughed as Abbot and Costello made their jokes on the airwaves. Would it have cast its woody eyes skyward as War of The Worlds played out on the speakers? The green picket would have had a prime view to witness the great fire of 1912 that burned the Hill Top House to the foundations. And it also would have seen the reconstruction of the grand dame of southern hotels. It might have watched again in horror as the scene repeated itself in 1917. And sighed with relief as it once again rose from the ashes.

How many countless barbeques, parades and cotillions must have been held under its boughs when it was a younger thing? The grounds it now resides weren’t always my back yard. it used to be a open field where people would hold picnics and events throughout the summer. Even I have had a few parties under it’s shaded branches. As has my neighbor, after all it is tall enough that it shades his yard too. What joyful memories that grand old pine must have.

I love watching the squirrels that live in it’s towered branches. Each and every one of them I have named and can tell apart. There are three of them,, and although I don’t know exactly what they are, I’ve named them Larry, Moe and Curly. The scamper, cavort, wrestle and chitter away the spring and summer days. I leave them nuts, seeds and berries when I can, but every winter I leave a sack of seeds out for my furry friends. I don’t want them to wander off from the safety of the tree and fall prey to hungry winter predators. There is an owl that has stalked the top of the hill since the Hotel closed down. So I make sure the stooges are safe.

I wonder how much time the tree has left. It’s not in danger, no no no. It isn’t dying or threatened in any way. I wonder what will it yet bare witness to? What wonders and advances does that huge tree still have yet to see? Will it remain rooted to that hillside and see the development of this sleepy town? Will my evergreen guardian continue to house the critters and wildlife of the small town backyard? I hope so.


It ends…All things:

Birds, Trees, Mountain Tops, Flowers, and Businesses

It grinds stones to sand, and as terrible as it is…

it’s the most beautiful thing we have in our lives…..time  {Brandon Webb}


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