|Mulberry, Rose of Sharon, and Mystery Treelet Universe|
My yard is a small universe.
What I worry about is that someday all of us life forms that support each other in this micro-mini universe will have to make way for bigger things. Like somebody who buys my house when I’m too old to take care of it will tear it all down and that will be that.
Stars are born and stars die.
There is a towering young mulberry tree in the corner of my yard. It fireballed into existence out of some random bird droppings several years ago, hidden from notice in its corner until it reached a respectable height. A puny six-foot sapling that has chutzpah is hard for me to take out. Because of its determination to live a chancy and ill-placed existence, it sneaked into the gravitational pull of my heart. It’s now a big tree, providing shade and bird food and jelly fruits. It was not a planned thing. Some people, my mom included, call mulberry trees “weed trees.” They drop really sweet purplish fruit all over the ground, which stains everything , including bird poop. And I really love that tree.
Galaxies born and galaxies die.
There is a row of Rose of Sharon bushes along my back fence. I carefully planted 6 of them, mixed white and purple and red, when they were scraggly twigs on sale at Home Depot. They were so happy to get out of their root-bound pots, I remember. That was 6 years ago. They’ve grown into a sizeable hedge between me and my neighbor’s kid’s ugly plastic playset. They are in bloom now, and so pretty. They spread their branches in a growth pattern, reaching out to each other, and to the mulberry tree, and to some other little tree which has grown up out of an old stump nearby. The stump-treelet is random, but interesting, and I’m waiting to see what it turns out to be. The reaching-out to each other is something trees do, with a specific name: canopying. Trees grow purposefully towards each other. They support each other, shading each other’s root systems. Sharing information. I love the galaxy of shrubs and trees in my yard. They shelter each other and the yard and me, in shared and interdependent life.
The universe was born, and the universe will die.
Sometimes I think I shouldn’t plant any more things, in case they are left on their own. I’ve left houses before, as I’ve moved around. Frequently, new owners will pull up everything, including big trees, and mark their territory so to speak with new plantings. Like spoils of war. So to eliminate that false hope that my mulberry might live to be a hundred—as it could under ideal conditions—I should maybe never have encouraged it.
But then I think, hey, look around. Everything in the world, and out of the world, is born and dies. Some have very long happy lives, but quite a few have short or violent ones. It’s unreasonable and defeating to throw in the towel to avoid an ending. What the universe and my yard have in common must be that they began, randomly and with headstrong will. They exist. For now.
I resolve to not worry about my yard’s future. I’ll enjoy my mulberry weed random tree as long as we both shall live together. And we’ll enjoy our universe.
(For further reading on stars and life, check out: Carl Sagan’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.)