I am sad . . . I lost an old friend an hour ago. Over by my studio there lived an ancient willow tree. The state forest service said it was the largest and possibly the oldest willow in Connecticut. It would take 8 people – arms outstretched – to encircle this mighty champion. The willow had lost limbs through the years but, low and behold, slender new growth would emerge. I always said that even if this tree lost every branch, I would keep its gnarled trunk as a piece of sculpture. Willows, beloved of gardeners and poets, do not typically have a long life span, but this one seemed destined for the record book, until today, when we had huge winds. Barely 30 seconds after Teddy Bear (my Wheaton Terrier) and I had crossed in front of the tree, I heard a horrible crash. I turned and saw that half of my lovely willow had collapsed to the ground, destroying a nice old corn crib in the process.
I love trees. To me they are soulful companions as well as inspiring symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. When I see wonderful old specimens go down I always think about what they have lived through and what they could tell us. For example, battles of the Revolutionary War were fought in our region of Connecticut and the owner of Weatherstone raised a regiment for the Continental Army. Did this tree shade a battle ground or give cover to a soldier? This old guy, my dear friend for decades, will be sorely missed from his place at the top of my shade garden.