Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Parable of the Window Well

The bottom of the window well is a hostile home. Always in shadow, it was constantly soggy and covered in a layer of half-decayed leaves and garbage.

Last spring with the gentle coaxing of the sun, a shoot emerged from the rotting, shallow soil. At eight inches tall, it greeted the world with a small white blossom. It had probably come from the genetic insistence of a wayward seed from the year before.

In time, I was sure it would cease its impossible struggle and simply become part of the rotting mulch that surrounded it.

By fall, the shoot would no longer be ignored. It grew taller than the window well, demanding the attention it did not receive from the lack of audience in a cold basement room. And it was no longer a shoot. It had branched and twisted and branched again. Without a doubt, it was a small tree.

Still, the bottom of the window well was not a good home. The tree's roots scalloped in and out of the ground, twisted against the glass of the window and snaked along the metal retainer. Fighting for hold and for nutrients, they were a tangled mess more on top of the ground than in it.

The tree couldn't stay.

It wouldn't be long until one of those determined roots found a weakness in the house's foundation and broke in.

Simply casting the tree aside seemed wrong somehow. It so wanted to live. It had proved its worth and its beauty. It thrived in the worst conditions.

We would transplant the tree.

After digging a hole for it in the front yard in a sunny, southern spot, Justin and I went to work to remove the tree from that window well. I climbed through the window into the well, and Justin worked from the yard, several feet above.

Digging, heaving, pulling, this tree did not want to move. Its knotted roots were in such a mess that there was no way to dig around them - and there was very little soil to dig anyway. Transplanting trees is delicate. The tree can go into shock. We were nervous initially but even more so now. There was no way we could remove this tree delicately. We cut away the roots. We tried to leave as long of portions in tact as possible. But twisted, broken, or cut, every root was damaged.

We shrugged, knowing the tree probably wouldn't last long now, but still planted it carefully in the prepared hole in the front yard, doctoring the good soil with mulch. A few days later the snows came.

Every day I expected to see the tree toppled, but it held.

In the long Idaho winter, it appeared dead. Just an outline of gray twigs. But every other tree looked that way too.

And now that spring has come to Idaho again, with nourishing rains and coveted bits of glorious sunshine, I saw this.

Every time I see this little tree (now taller than me in just a year), it just fills me with hope. I draw strength from it, as cliche as that is. If a single wayward seed can grow and bloom into a beautiful strong tree in one of the harshest places and survive a chainsaw massacre-like transplant and still bloom and prosper...then I have even more reason to bloom as well. I have a lot more going for me than this tree ever did.

I love this tree.

Bloom where you are planted.
Mary Engelbreit


Beckie said...

Gave me Chills!!! I love that- what a reminder every day for you to see!!

Mom on the Go said...

Awwww, I'm totally crying! Love it!

Amy said...

What a tough little tree! That's amazing. I'm sorry your still sick, that's crazy you still have a fever. I hope you get better soon!!


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