As I look out my office window I see the "hairy tree" as I affectionately refer to it. The tree, actually a pair of trees, was heavily girdled with ivy when I moved in. I have no excuse for thinking of them as a singular it, but I do. I cut back as much of the ivy as I could, and had to employ help as some of the ivy vines were as thick as my arms. The grounds crew used chain saws and also did make a few cuts into the bark, about which I worried. Most of the ivy was left in the tree to die and much of it is still there, dead and brown, from my window making the tree appear chewbacca-like in its corner.
Mostly what I have noticed this spring however is the new growth. Previously the trunks of this tree were mostly bare, with only a swath of leaves at the very top of the canopy. This spring there is new growth everywhere, leafy islands of green that fill my imagination, dancing in the breeze, reminders of fortitude, rebirth, survival. The old is still there, the vines, I can't pull them all out, but we never fully escape our pasts anyway. The presence of a past, no matter how traumatic, no matter how touchy we may be about the memory, doesn't mean the death of beauty, of growth, of life.
But the ivy branches, and the bare bases also remind me not only of setbacks and growth, but of arrogance and mistakes and how life still endures, constantly moving forward. The bare bases of the trees remind me of Tikka's bare bottom, where the vet shaved her undercoat because the fur was badly matted. I know now that we could have probably trimmed out the longer hairs and saved that hair, that the vet knew it wouldn't grow back, that there was another alternative. Just as I probably could have found a better way to cut the ivy, a way that did not harm the tree, although I doubt I could have gotten all the vines pulled down. My own arrogance played into the arrogance of the workmen, and all of our efforts built on the arrogance of that which came before, of letting the ivy take root and grow to the point of almost overwhelming the tree in the first place. The cut lines are there to remind me of human folly, just as the vines remain, dead but reminding us of adversity, adversity overcome. I often think we need to be reminded of both, of the beauty and the growth, but also of the costs and the perils of life. Let us only hope that our mistakes can be overcome, not forgotten, but reimagined.