Small sidewalk trees on my busy street have it tough. There’s exhaust, the sides of buses, noise, windy storms that stampede up from the harbor, and the occasional drunk college student. I appreciate them and their stamina when I wait for the bus, when buds are appearing, or foliage is saturating a patch of my day. The bare winter branches have their own relationship to varying sky color and the streetlights and also inspire me.
The newest, a little ginkgo with fan-shaped leaves, became a favorite. The fans fluttered a snap-pea green that turned into lemon yellow in autumn. Its knobby branches with their rapier attitude enticed out the phone camera, and made me want to learn calligraphy and ink arts.
Alas. A recent storm’s gusts half-strangled me in my own scarf, and the next trip to the bus stop…alas. Only a thin stump left, looking gnawed. A yoga teacher used to remind us that every pose we do we also undo, that the force that creates also destroys, in its rolling loop. The wind catches words like “Stay” and “Mine” and whips them out of sight. But there was no such philosophy at the bus stop. Just damp eyes.
It is what it is. Being attached to a source of creative inspiration equals waiting for it to disappear, or knowing it will be there when you yourself are gone. Trees and I strive on.
Boston, like many cities, has malls, and in ours, “stuffed lobster” can be either a cuddly red toy or your dinner. Moving on…
It also has The Mall, in the old-fashioned sense of a shady promenade, with benches, statues, and a central path flanked by trees, running up the middle of An Avenue of Note. Those it was originally designed to delight lived in Gilded Age urban mansions and townhouses.
In winter, the two rows of trees are wrapped in white lights, an eye-feast whether you’re looking up into branches or down at block after block of bright shapes. In the late winter twilight, they glow with a windy softness, like a field of fireflies. In the black dark of a clear winter night, they are fierce.
People chose creatively where to drape, what to wrap. There’s a sense of people seeing each tree’s individuality, the result of species, weather, angles of light, and the large, slow patterns of the Universe’s Creativity.
They’ll be shut off soon for the season, and leaves will take over from the lights as a different multitude, and everything will change.