The Will of the Willow
Bending, rotten, filled with life, I persist
For seventy years I’ve watched over this yard.
I am not quite the tree I once was. Several of my limbs are dead and likely to fall off soon. Several colonies of insects dwell within my trunk. As a willow however, I am able to endure all of this. If taken care of, I likely have another thirty more years.
Some would like me to go immediately.
Humans from neighbouring dwellings do not like me. They find my dead limbs both unsightly and threatening. Some find the toys that cling to my branches and trunk distasteful. There are others nearby who prefer smaller plants. They find my shadow to be problematic.
I’ve heard rumblings from some about cutting me down. They believe they can make things better by eliminating my shadow. They think they can create more light in the yards. The children will be more safe without the ropes that cling to my limbs. The children will be more safe without my dead limbs threatening to crush them. There will be more food, more colours, more flowers without me.
This is true.
I cast a large shadow over several properties. I limit what others can do because of my presence.
The crows that play with the woman in the dwelling love me. They dance on my limbs as they call for their second breakfast in the winter.
The man from the dwelling loves me.
He clings to me as he steps up to walk on the belt between me and the stump of the old maple at the back side of the yard.
He swings from the rope.
He loafs about in the basket swing just below me.
Most of all, he enjoys how the small ones engage.
Years ago, he arrived with a length of white rope. He tied knots in the rope. He hung the rope from one of my branches mid way up my trunk. He said that it was the best thirty dollars he ever spent.
The children used it to climb all over me. They used it to swing. They used it in countless imaginary games.
These days, the children spend less time with me. They are aging. I have seen this before. Children don’t stay children long.
And every now and then they return. Imaginary games and feats of physical daring begin anew. The older two from the dwelling are delighted, their hearts warm.
Though I cast a shadow with the chaos that I could cause and the limits that I impose, the potential for play is always here.
As a willow tree, I’m patient. I will be ready for the next generation to delight in my limbs.
And I will be here for when the big ones remember that they too are still children.
But for this to happen? They will need to invest in me. My dead limbs need pruning. The ants need Borax.
With a little care I can continue to cast shadows while creating a space for risk.
With a little care, I can continue to help these humans find delight.