And so it is Mother’s Day and I have been a mother for 16 years, a sort-of wife for 20 odd years. (Some would say very odd.) I have lived in this coastal city for that long, after leaving the infinitely generous and stretchy womb of Mother Prairie. And I feel it is necessary to apologize the to the lovely old mother lilac trees in our backyard. I’m sorry I did not get organized to book and pay the pruner and now you are heavy and laden with blooms which endanger your branches, (but which I relish with all my heart). I have been a naughty and selfish child.
And I apologize to the trees, especially those that feed the bees, as I have neglected my study of you for the study of the shrubs and herbs. It is because I am nearsighted and short of stature and when I climb up on things I fall and bad things happen. I am proud of my scars, but not so proud that I did not learn from those lessons. I have gifted your feet with checkered lilies, geraniums and bleeding hearts. (There is more to come.) I must rip the blackberry, ivy and lamium from your base. Apologies for having left it so late.
I apologize to the hawthorn trees that bloom along 24thavenue, as I have not lauded your praises enough and walked among your blossoms with that appropriate awe that you so deserve. I can make that up to you. You feed so many bees. You clear our lungs and perk up our sluggish and overfed hearts. I must make amends. I will be hawthorn bathing with a spirit of abandonment in the next two weeks.
This year your blooms are overlapping with those of the cherry laurel. It will be interesting to see how you relate to one another in this way. The spring has been cold and wet, but you are resilient and I hope for sunshine for your haws. I hope the bees can visit you to make your fruit abundant for the song birds that depend on them.
I apologize to the redbud tree blooming near the Flower Factory. It took so long for me to learn your name. How rude. How boorish of me. We skipped the lineup inside the flower shop and I took photos of you instead. Better than dead flowers shipped by airplane from some godforsaken site of capitalist plundering. I’m sorry you have to see that day in and day out. It is soul-crushing I know.
The last time I visited you I climbed up on the bench to get closer to your beautiful blossoms. Two years have passed, and I no longer feel like I can take the risk. The torrential rain fall made the surface of the seat slippery. This makes me sad, but it is how we measure our age—by our relationship to trees.
And you, poor mock orange. You got the worst of it. The man cut you right down to the ground two weeks ago. Every morning since, I have mourned his stupidity. I have loved you for so many years. You have been there through the ripping pain of childbirth, friends made and lost, neighbors’ children conceived and fledged, the joys and sorrows of us all who pass by you on the way to the way through the way somewhere else and back again. There are tears in my eyes right now and my chest is aching with grief. You are the symbol of loss itself. The scent of your blossoms echoes in my memory. We have let you down. We should have done better. We should have loved you more. I will take your loss and use it to teach what we should not lose: the fight for beauty, phenological awareness, and sustainable cultivation. I will plant a new mock orange in your memory. Maybe a dozen. Perhaps I will steal one of your shoots under the cover of night and root your progeny. Is that what you want me to do? I’m listening.