When I was little, I asked my mom why some trees died in the winter and others were still green and pretty.
“They don’t die honey. They go to sleep. They use up so much energy growing big and tall and providing shade to us that they need a nap. The other trees just sit around looking pretty all year so they don’t need to rest.”
“But the leaves don’t sleep. They fall off and die!”
“Don’t worry about the leaves. Their work is not done…. They provide bedding for birds and squirrels and some of them even become food for the trees.”
“Well I hope they don’t become food for the tree they fell off of! That would be like a momma eating her babies!!!!!”
I smile as I think about that conversation now. I developed this idea that trees went to sleep in the winter… a nice peaceful sleep…. That they hid from the cold and the gloom and had peaceful dreams until it was time to wake up again. But this year, something feels different.
I’ve worked at the same place for 11 years. I’ve seen the same trees – mostly – for 11 years. Today, while standing outside, watching the trees, they didn’t seem peaceful. They seemed angry, rebellious. The wind was howling and the trees were swaying and
they cried out to me “NO – Not yet! – I’m not ready for winter!”
The younger, thinner trees sway with vigor. They move back and forth, almost violently, as if daring the wind to knock them over and they bounce back up…. The older, thicker, and maybe wiser trees move more slowly. They give way to the wind because they know how strong it is, but then never give all the way… they gently sway back into their upright position when the wind isn’t watching.
As I watch I get the feeling that they each have different personalities, that maybe they are alive in a way I hadn’t considered before. I know I’m feeling fanciful today but frankly, I have no clue why I was watching the trees.
I’ve never really looked at them before. But all of the movement made them alive for me for the very first time.
Perhaps that is all just my own heart crying out those words. I’m never ready for winter. I understand the reason for it, the renewal and rebirth and the symbolism and all that…. But I’m never ready for it. And it feels like the trees aren’t ready for it this year either.