I call these two trees the old friends. They were growing in my back yard, side by side at the edge of a pond, when I moved here more than 40 years ago. I don’t know enough about trees to guess how old they were by then. They stand side by side, together enduring whatever weather comes, shedding their leaves each fall and growing new ones in the spring.
Although they’re different species, from some perspectives the two appear to be one tree. Sometimes I think of them as a family, the pair of smaller trees on either side their offspring.
We’ve asked our tree guy if we should be concerned about the health of the darker one standing slightly to the front, but he says no, it’s fine. I hope he’s right because it grows at an angle, leaning toward our house, but the tree guy says the roots are strong.
We moved several times when I was a kid, and I never felt rooted the way other people seemed to be in any of the places I’ve lived. Even now. There’s some sadness for me in that. Other times, though, I’ve just felt glad that I’m not stuck in one place. At least in theory.
These trees make me think of this passage from the book Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren:
No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor–to anchor an embryo and forever end its mobile phase, however passive that mobility was. Once the first root is extended, the plant will never again enjoy any hope (however feeble) of relocating to a place less cold, less dry, less dangerous. Indeed, it will face frost, drought, and greedy jaws without any possibility of flight. The tiny rootlet has only one chance to guess what the future years, decades–even centuries–will bring to the patch of soil where it sits. It assesses the light and humidity of the moment, refers to its programming, and quite literally takes the plunge. Everything is risked in that one moment …
I suppose these two chose well. I suppose I did, too.