Deep within the dark Pacific Northwest winter I went to the island nursery to get some eucalyptus branches for my bathroom. It not being the season for eucalyptus branches the gentleman offered me some cut willow tree.
I asked him if they would last long.
He said you could actually stick a willow branch into dirt and it will grow into a tree with the right amount of water and light.
I told him my bathroom was dark and I just needed them to last the winter until the eucalyptus came in.
He suggested putting them in water to prolong their decay but that there was no way they would grow without light, or soil.
They weren’t much to look at. Just a bunch of bald sticks. I almost threw them out. Three times I took them outside to the compost and then changed my mind and brought them back in.
They bothered me. They looked so tangled and stark.
But I left them, and tried to ignore how much they unsettled me.
I think it was my son who saw the first root. Then more roots came, then buds, and finally green. Willow trees were growing in the dark, in a vase, in my bathroom. Without soil, without light, they were growing.
The roots became a matrix and the green burst forth and after a few months I saw the branches were struggling and now needed more so I brought them out to my sun drenched living room.
Spring is whispering and the sun is growing stronger while my willow branches drink and devour it. I fill their vase daily with water, they keep getting greener, their leaves keep getting fuller and I tend to them and care for them, as these branches have become sacred to me.
“I saw a country road lined with tall shade trees. I saw fields, cattle, a village below the trees. I don’t know what book or picture I had got that from, or why a place like that should have seemed to me safe. But it was the picture that came to me, and I played with it. The mornings, the dew, the fresh flowers, the shade of the trees in the middle of the day, the fires in the evening. I felt I had known that life, and that is was waiting for me again somewhere.” –A Bend In The River, V.S. Naipaul