I don’t take many pictures of my front door, or the tree next to it: I take them for granted. If you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have said sure, I’d notice if my front door was missing and I’d want it back, but that would be about it.
Earlier this year, I had a very bushy palm tree by my front door. It lived there for over ten years and it used to shed palm fronds all over the path, but I liked it because it felt a bit tropical in an otherwise rainy and bleak landscape. A bit pina colada in the land of hot tea.
Then, this year, the leaves fell off.
And my palm tree turned into a… stalk.
It happened painfully.
First a few leaves fell off, then most of them, then all but two, and then, one by one, the last two. If you’ve never seen a palm tree with just one leaf… it’s sad.
The same thing happened with a couple of the neighbours’ trees, and the tree surgeon came and chopped them to stumps. I planted a plum tree to cheer myself up, and a wisteria, but I didn’t plant another palm tree. This one had my children’s swing on it. My cat loved it. Even I – having all but ignored it for a decade – loved it.
I surveyed the base; there was a bit of bark damage so I padded it with moss in the warm weather, watered it, and surrounded it with lumps of granite to prevent it from being scratched or strimmed, and to press whatever loose bark was left a little closer to the main trunk. It was all I could think to do.
Then I waited.
“It’s dead,” said a couple of people.
“It… might… live,” said a couple more.
The months passed. About four months, without any leaves at all. Little fragments of bark fell to the ground. The skies turned grey. I made sure the trunk was protected and I hoped it would fight back. I stopped looking at it. I declined someone’s offer to cut it down.
“It might recover,” I said, “sometimes miracles happen.” But I still didn’t look at it.
in the bright October sunshine,
I SAW THIS:
which, a little closer up, looks like this:
which, to me, looks exactly like the miracle I’d been hoping for.
It’s only a little thing, but it’s nice: a little bit of tough, enduring life.
My tree is alive.