See that huge tree on the right? Hanging over the walkway? Kind of looks like a sorry pine to me, but tree id isn’t my strong suit. It has strange looking cones that resemble upside down wasp nests. And the needles seem to grow blue then turn silver. Even during heavy rain, the branches are so thick there’s a dry spot on the walkway underneath them, one in which I had often stood, comforted by its ability to keep me dry.
I hadn’t really given much thought to its origins, assuming it was a fortuitously placed wild tree, until by chance, a landscaper-type guy was visiting the house, and I asked if he knew what this tree might be.
Turns out it’s something called Deodara Kashmir, a type of cedar. Although to me, Deodara Kashmir could be the star of a Bollywood musical, who falls in love with the local playboy Garry Oaks, but their cultural differences and his cad-like ways are destined to keep them apart.
The other interesting thing is that it’s not a species native to British Columbia. So, someone had to make the decision to buy this from a nursery and plant it here, in this little plot of land, which already is jammed with trees. Which got me thinking “Why here?”
It’s certainly a beautiful tree–or at least would be so had it been shaped properly (so the landscaper said), very much resembling a large Christmas tree with its pyramid shape. The trees here are huge, much too high to decorate, and the Garry Oaks in front of the house that serve as a windbreak are stunted and gnarled by the sea winds. So if one were looking for an outdoor tree to decorate, one could do worse than to plant this exotic creature.
And that theory is shored up by the presence of Christmas lights in the branches. I don’t know how long they’ve been there, but only two of them work, and the cord snakes almost underground now from the tree to the electrical outlet, covered by the detritus of years of shifting soil and grasses. Remember the old coloured Christmas tree lights? The ones that were really plain white but had colour painted on them? My parents had them on our tree when we were younger. Well, these lights are probably only a generation or two newer than those.
The tree is much too tall now to replace those lights, even with a long ladder. The narrow walkway is on one side, and the tree itself balances on the edge of a drop-off into the lower part of the garden, right over a deer path.
But even though it doesn’t light up anymore, it’s nice to look out the kitchen window at it, and wonder about the people who planted it, and how they lit it up, and wonder if they, or likely their children, remember that tree. Was it exciting to see it lit up for the first time in the winter? Did they use it as a beacon for Santa? Was it lighted long after Christmas to cheer up the heavy grey of the winter sky?
Even though the lights don’t work, there’s still a lot to see in that tree. Right underneath there’s a wild blackberry bush, and just before the berries ripen, the deer come out to nip them off. I hang a woodpecker suet feeder there, where Downy’s and flickers feast, and squirrels try their damnedest but despite superior acrobatics just cannot crack that feeder. There’s a big mesh honeybee that holds sunflower seeds, so plenty of songbirds avail themselves of that. Right now, there’s a particularly belligerent ruby-throated hummingbird who uses it as a watchtower, to guard “his” feeder that hangs on the kitchen bridge.
I kinda feel like that tree some days. Not that I’m exotically named or provide housing for birds, though my hair could be aptly described as a bird’s nest most mornings. Just that my bulbs are blowing out, but I am still determined to give my life purpose. Even if that purpose is to give you a gift of strained metaphors on Christmas Day.
And to all, a good night.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”