Yesterday my sweet Yum Yums turned 1. I simply cannot believe how this could have happened. I blinked and an entire year evaporated. It’s as if I’m living in an “I Dream of Jeannie” episode, except I don’t realize it and just keep blinking away hours – no months of my life. If only I could harness that power for good … if only I could be like that girl in that 80’s sitcom who could put her fingers together and freeze time. Imagine all that I could get accomplished! What was the name of that show…?
Anyway, I was thinking about all of this as I was moving through my morning, (which was speeding along faster than I could manage to keep up with), and placing myself back in last year’s delivery room where I held my tiny little Yums for the first time. There’s a poem out there somewhere with a line that goes (pardon my paraphrasing) “Your children are not your children. They come through you, not from you,” and this was exactly what I was thinking of a year ago. I have no idea who wrote it, and in fact only heard it read once, but it stuck with me. I always thought it was a beautiful idea: little luminous souls, swaddled and presented to new guardians – and there I was, holding this tiny new perfect little person. And he did seem luminous. To me, anyway. But I don’t think that poem has got it quite right. I think that our children come both through and of us. I say that because I see little bits of myself in my children every day. Also, I am absolutely my father’s daughter. There are many obvious similarities, but it goes beyond any of those. We can’t even play rock, paper, scissors together because 90% of the time it’s a stalemate. It’s very creepy. Even when we decide we’re going to make a move to fool each other, we make the same move at the same time. When I was a kid, it freaked me out. I was convinced he could read my mind. Then I realized it’s even weirder than that: we make the same choices, and we make those choices at the same time. Talk about the power of genes! Anyway, I was lost in these internal ramblings as I was changing a diaper, when The Muffin points out the window and says: “Whoa! Mom! Look at our tree!!”
I look up, and it’s like the tree has its hand pressed against the window. It was a branch, in fact, that had fallen, but it looked like fingers against the glass. Yum Yums loves trees – in fact, looking up at the trees was one of the first things that made him smile; so it seemed appropriate somehow that on his birthday, there’d be a big tree branch pressed against the window, almost as if it was saying “Hi”. It’s when I opened the window, that I noticed the big branch was also resting on a power line.
The night before, I read a short piece on the Standing Ones. I’ve always loved trees, too, so I guess that’s why it caught my attention. Anyway, it was posted on Curanderismo (the Healing Art of Mexico)’s Facebook page and it read:
“It is said all our people talked with the Standing Ones in times gone by,
but humans began to think they were better than the trees and animals.
They placed themselves above nature
and claimed dominion over all the earth.
That is when humans stopped listening
and the green things stopped talking.”
It went on to describe how with patience, one might learn to communicate with the trees; then described the different attributes of certain types of trees. Our tree in question – the one with the branch on the power line – is a Maple. I think. I really don’t know much about trees at all, which I am sure would disappoint my Dziadzi (Grandfather) to no end. He studied Forestry before becoming a Meteorologist, and knew all the trees by name. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Maple. It seems that Maple “is the tree of offering; of giving of ones self so that others may benefit” (according to that post). So, as I was carefully moving the much-more-enormous-branch-than-it-looked-from-the-window away from the power line, my heart went out to that tree. It’s a beautiful tree that gives deep red leaves in the fall, and now that I’m really looking closely at it, seems to be half-rotten. I climbed up into the tree to free part of another broken branch, and noticed another rotten limb just barely hanging on, so I gave a hard thwack & down it went. Poor tree. I made a feeble attempt at Native American tree talking.
Me: “What’s wrong?”
“How can I help you?”
“Ugh!” – that was me as I accidentally put my hand on a slug, then discovered what looked like a fluffy bird’s nest, but filled with slugs. Kinda killed the mood. And the “conversation.” But I did take some pictures.
I brought Yum Yums and the Muffin outside to look at the broken branches, and play in the grass a tiny bit before it started to rain again. We noticed an entrance to a burrow at the tree’s roots, and a line of mushrooms leading to the nest with the slugs. The Muffin wielded rotten twigs like swords and fought imaginary Ninjas in the yard. It seems the description on Maple was an apt one: “tree of offering; giving of ones self”.
I couldn’t help but think of that book “The Giving Tree.” Which is made of paper. Which came from trees. The irony is not lost on me.