Victory Trees


I bought a laurel tree on a whim last summer. I had a brain fart, standing there among the plants at the farmers market, and was sure the laurel was sacred to Athena and thus so appropriate for me to bring home–and we’d have European bay leaves as well as the bay laurel I get from the hills here!

S’okay, Apollo has his place as well. When he’s not mistreating dryads, that is… I repotted the laurel and it managed to survive many months of being on the front steps till the chickens moved to San Francisco. It gained maybe three or four inches in height stuck out there with nothing but a couple of hours of morning light. Since it moved to the back yard it has more than doubled in size. Having a partner who knows how to care for plants has certainly helped. She trimmed me a few leaves that she said were sapping its strength and now she says we have to repot it.

I looked at the little stake that says it can get up to forty feet high and decided against planting it in the yard, much as I would like to. What an addition to the urban forest, after all. But we have the tiniest yard on the block. Better to confine timbertoes a bit until our situation changes and I can give it a home suitable to its possible stature.

I wasn’t able to busk today. My arm and neck told me to knock it off and I have learned to listen to such things. I’m no longer in pain, and I managed to write the lyrics to the Lugh song I’ve been working on. I keep reminding myself that the worth of the journey is not solely measured in its speed. I have to work tomorrow, which means sewing canvas, teaching volunteers, and being fit to do so.

Luckily, a short session of pruning the oak tree didn’t mess with my arms. Different task and not really repetitive motion. More a matter of cut, assess carefully, cut a little more. In their infinite wisdom, the builders, or the early owners of this house decided to plant a scrub oak right next to the side of the house. We’re talking literally within six inches of the foundation. I love this tree and I know that the odds are good that it will have to be removed if and when we can afford to replace the foundation, which is brick and unlikely to make it through a major quake. Ah, we live on borrowed time, here in California… I’ve been trimming it away from the windows and generally trying to keep it healthy. It was covered with galls when we got here and squeeeeeked against the windows like a haunted thing when it got windy. I have a place hollowed out where a chair will fit now, and pretty much cleared out the leaves and spiderwebs. Best of all, as soon as I saw out the dead stick in the middle, I’ll be able to sit there without the people from the apartment building next door looking down on me. It will be a cozy place to do a little tree magic. There’s as thick a bed of oak leaves underneath as I can manage to leave down there, with plenty left over to put in the worm bin. With a bit of imagination, it makes a nice little speck of forest. Right in my own side “yard.”

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