It may require a bit of a mind jerk to move from red lines in Syria and union busting in the United States to a contemplation of the weeping willow, but that’s the way this brain of mine works. Perhaps contemplating heartless dictators and short-sighted politicians sends me back to the safer, simpler days of my childhood. We take comfort where we can. Natural beauties also soothe my soul and remind me that the world is full of both ugliness and beauty. And breathing fresh air removes the cloudy bits from the dark corners of my soul, at least temporarily. Anyway, I have been thinking about weeping willows.
Weeping willows seem to be sort of scare now. They once adorned capacious lawns, pastoral expanses of emerald green well-tended grass. They also like to grow near water. They are whimsical and wispy with slender leafy branches that seem to lift at the top and then drip delicately down to trail on the ground. If cut back these dainty branches drift airily back and forth. They seem to have that same poetic Asian beauty that all weepy things possess, a subject for ancient scrolls or haiku.
When I was a child there were plenty of these trees gracing many a sweeping landscape. We could take our dolls or just our imaginations under the branches of whichever tree had the lowest hanging tips and hide out in the cool green space that surrounded the trunk. It was good for sword fights too. It could morph into a lovely room with a backrest, perfect for escape or reading. It always seemed cool there even on the hottest summer days. We did not own this particular tree that I am recalling; we just visited it occasionally.
But weeping willows take up lots of space and they are said to be messy trees strewing biological detritus beneath and all around. Now these trees are rare to see, at least in my neighborhood, although I found several excellent examples on a recent ride. Instead we go to nurseries and buy dwarf weepers that have the aesthetics but none of the blowsy Scarlett O’Hara decadence and none of the whispered invitations to attend a tea party in their depths. I guess weeping willows are the whales or elephants of the tree world and people are crowding them out. As a friend of mine says, sad……………..