Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Tree, part I

The tree.

Here I sit
. All day, everyday. The traffic, the noise and the trash. Where does it all come from? I don’t know where it comes from, but most of it seems to find its way into my branches – if you could call what I have branches. This all I have ever known my entire life.

When it all started, like most of us trees do, as little saplings, the sky was the limit – well, almost. Some of us grow to 20 feet tall and then others can reach up to 300 feet tall. It just depends on what species you are. But then, you get older and the fun stops, the storms come, you get beat up on a regular basis by the water and debris floating in the water, friends come and go – mostly go – pollution from neighborhoods and parking lots make their way our way and you come to this realization - ”this sucks”. It ain’t so much how tall you can be, what color your leaves or blossoms are or how big around you can get, but where you are planted. Location, location, location. The guys 50 feet up the bank from me on the flat ground have it made! Man, they are pretty much out of the flood zone and yet they enjoy the benefits of enough water in the dry season. They also have a better view and a much better future for their little ‘acorns’. Most of their acorns hang around pretty close, with a few straying ‘beyond the drip line’. But we both know how some little acorns are – they just have to “see and experience ‘it’ (life) for themselves”! Swoosh! Down the hill and into the ditch they go. We usually never see them again. But mine, likw me, never had that choice. They are given directly to the stream and are probably doomed to live a life - not too much unlike their dad - in some God forsaken place, way downstream. Never to know who they are or where they came from. Just a good ole’ ditch tree – or like the ‘Joneses’ who live a little up stream from me like to be called, ‘canal’ trees. Stream, canal or even bayou - they are all ditches to me. What ever; where ever. All of our fates are basically the same down here. You stay small and insignificant and they leave you alone. If you start to get too big and slow the flow of the ‘canal’ – they just show up and cut you down completely! ‘They’ are man. Or worse, they maim you, leaving you to live a life of misery, with stubby, fat, blunt ended branches - like they have done to me over the years. They like to leave us ‘alive’ - no matter what we look like -since some of us hold the ditch banks together and help prevent erosion. They could care less, for when they leave here they get to go home – and here I am stuck having to live with their ‘work’ – not to mention the ridicule from the tree guys up on top of the bank. They sure can give me a hard time. They call me things like “the stubster” or “blunty” or their favorite one “treetrash”. You are probably wondering why “treetrash”? It’s because I seem to catch every piece of debris that comes with the flow. Plastic bags and the rings from 6 packs seem to have a special affinity for me. Sometimes I favor a sick looking Christmas tree. Sure, Christmas trees live a short life, but oh, what a life! Ah, so what, let them have a little fun on my account. I don’t hold it against them. Ah, so what. Let them high and mighty ‘flat landers’ have a little fun on my account. I don’t hold it against them. I guess this is just my lot in life and I am okay with it. I am comfortable in my own bark. That is something I cannot say for those guys up there.
Then, one day it happened. One of the worst gully washers any of us could remember. At one point, the water level almost completely covered my top branches! Towards noon, the rain finally stopped, which was a good thing, but we also know that more water is coming from all of the other ‘feeder’ ditches, streams and parking lots that drain into our ‘canal’. So, we just have to hope our roots can ‘hang on’ and wait it out until everything starts to settle down. Towards nightfall, a few of us were talking about how glad we were it was going to be over soon when I heard it. An unusual sound it was. Kind of like a cat crying out when it has lost its moma or some strange bird. Then around the curve of the canal, here comes this thing that looks like a miniature version of those things that come and cut us down (or mame us) a few times a year. Man. That’s what it was, a little man. It was floating and thrashing about, grabbing at every little twig which was sticking out above water. It just could not get a hold on those flimsy things- they were breaking off or slipping through its fingers. Then I realized it was heading straight for me. I was sure I could hold it and myself all at the same time. The flow was going very fast - I did lose a lot of dirt around the lower side of my root ball – but since it (the little man) was so small I figured I could handle it. But would it be able to hold onto my stubby branches? [Were it not for it’s own kind, I would have plenty of branches stretching way across the entire canal – pretty flowing branches – but, hey, that is all ‘water under the bridge’ – I have to work with what I’ve got. The only thing I need to be holding onto right now is the dirt within my root zone. Not an old grudge.]
Slam! It was floating as fast as a bird flies when suddenly it hit some of my upper limbs. It became lodged in my old ‘stubbies’ – lucky for it (cause I can’t move anything) these things have come in handy after all! Then it kept on making that screaming noise for almost the entire night. Then, the water started going down a little come sunrise. A little lower, a little lower and then the daylight came full force and really showed the mess our canal was in! Some of my long time tree buddies were gone. The Joneses were no where to be seen and some of the guys on the upper bank had fallen over due to erosion. (‘Stubster’, huh? – no, I didn’t say it, I was just thinkin’ it). There it was, the man thing, still stuck up in my branches way above the ground. What was I supposed to do now? I can’t move. Well, at least it was quiet. I didn’t know if that was good or bad – hopefully it’s just sleeping. I’ve had other things get stuck up in my branches before – dead things like possums or little critters to weak to swim when we would have big rains. They would drown and then wind up ‘all in my business’ for weeks until the buzzards would do me a favor and cart the little carcass off of me. Whew! I sure hope this one is alive and can get down on its own, for no other reason than that, cause I don’t think them buzzards could handle a package that big! And it would take it months to - you know – “decay”.

Well, looky here, there's a little boat coming down our little ole’ canal – if the Joneses could see this now! I bet they are looking for the little man – well, I can’t say a thing – I’ll just have to do like us trees have always done – after having done all to stand, we stand. They are getting mighty close - and sure enough, all the noise they are making is waking up the little man! Whew! Thank goodness! (cause the idea of a ‘carcass’ in my limbs was curling’ my root hairs). Now they have spotted the little man – awe no - here he goes again with that screaming business. Well, it won’t be too much longer till they get him off of me. . . . . .
We will finish stubby's story tomorrow . . . time for bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Love the story so far...looking forward to reading the rest.
Sorry you had a tough morning...I tried to catch Robin at the park but Lauren said she had left...had a good talk with Lauren...she is a beauty inside and out! Brian, well, he's daddy made over!

Hope tommorow is better for you!
Like the tree....Keep standing.

We love you!

The Howells