Our tree is 121 years old.
Well, of course it isn't our tree, it's our landlord's tree, smack in the middle of her property. But our lives seem to circle this big leafy maple tree. It's the home-base of our yard and everything we do out there has some kind of glancing thing to do with the tree. Planting means we have to take care to notice where the massive shade falls throughout the day, and windy days mean moving the cars out from under its weakest limb, just in case. We lose the last few minutes of whatever we are listening to in the car when we pull in, because the tree blocks the satellite's beam. In a way we are more the tree's than the tree is ours.
It's inchworm season in our big tree, and there are tiny green nasties everywhere. Our cars are covered with their tiny but ubiquitous poops. On a very still day, sitting under the tree, you swear you can hear them chewing the leaves.
A few years ago the tree seemed really to be failing. We were worried and watched it for bad and good signs. One day as I was sitting on our porch I heard a clear, pure tone and turned to see our groovy neighbor, who was circling the tree and ringing a bell. He came up on the porch and told me that the bell was ancient, and that its tones would bring the tree's energies into alignment. For my part, I promised to say a Rosary for the tree, and I did. It seems to have bounced back with vigor since then, and who's to say why?
Today we spent the day raking underneath the tree and cleaning up the yard, pulling out tiny little maple progeny and mounting strings of lights on the tree's lower limbs. I cringe when a staple goes in, but the tree stands stoic and is beautiful. Tonight we'll light the lights and a fire in our fireplace under the tree, try to dodge the green worms and their ammunition, and strain to see the stars between the tree's beautiful branches.