The big ash tree in front of my house was dying. I’d had no clue since these days I don’t leave the house much and it had been weeks — probably two months — since I’d been out front. When we backed out of the driveway, I gasped. My big, beautiful ash tree was dead on one side. Dead! The gardener had told me I needed to water my tree more because it was not looking good. I explained to him, with a heavy heart, that there is an ash tree disease going through Las Vegas — and perhaps other parts of the country – that is killing ash trees and no amount of water can cure it. Last year I had watered it extensively and it seemed to be holding its own, but not now.
The ash tree is right outside my window so I can see it as I sit at my computer. It’s a source of delight for me. In the spring I noticed a pair of sparrows hopping from branch to branch, perhaps scouting a site for their new home. What fun it would be to see a nest full of baby birds just on the other side of the window. Then I noticed my cat Black Jack sitting on the desk watching avidly. Hmmm, maybe not. Maybe they’d best move on down the road. And I love to watch my tree dance in the breeze, but it was not dancing now. The dead brown leaves just hang there. On the other side, closest to my window, it was still pretty green which explains how I’d missed the damage. From that day on, I closed my blinds – I couldn’t bear to see it dying.
Then one day I opened them – I had to look at my tree. And there, at the very end of a branch filled with dead leaves, at the very top, was a sprig of little green leaves. I looked hard. Yes. for sure there was something green there. Could it be? Was there really hope? I went outside and made my way slowly as far as my oxygen leash would allow and I stood there looking up. Yes. It was what I thought. A small sprig of green. An almost minuscule beacon of hope.
“All right,” I told the tree. “If you’re going to make the effort, I’m going to help.” I went back and dragged the hose over and placed it under that branch and let the water run. Hang the stupid water bill. I don’t care if it’s $100 — I’m going to give this tree a chance. “Have at it,” I told the tree. “Drink as much as you want.” I took a few steps over to the trunk and hugged it. “You can do this,” I told it. “Please don’t die. I don’t want you to die.” and then I said a little prayer for it. I mean God loves trees, doesn’t He? Look at all the different kinds of trees there are in the world. Surely He doesn’t want them to die.
This all happened about a month ago and I’ve mostly kept my blinds closed. Then last week as the weather started cooling down, I ventured to open the blinds and was amazed at what I saw. The little green sprig was no longer alone. There were bunches of them all up and down the branch. And moving to the middle of the tree there were green leaves mixed with the brown. Still a lot of brown, but there are new green leaves coming out. How can this be? It’s autumn, time for the leaves to start turning and dropping, but no — it is growing. New little branches, new little leaves. The ugly brown leaves are still there, but they are no longer in the majority. And wonder of wonders, best of all — the driveway side of the tree — the part that was well and truly dead — is all green. I mean, branch after branch sporting new growth. Green it is. The brown leaves that covered it are mostly gone. Did the wind take them away? I don’t know and I don’t care. They’re gone.
So do I need a tree — a big old ash tree — to teach me the lesson of hope? How can this be? Is it a miracle? I don’t have much experience with miracles, but maybe. Or maybe it’s the message from the tree: “Don’t give up. It may seem impossible. It may seem like it’s too late, that there is no hope, but don’t give up. Anything is possible.” All right, tree, if you don’t give up, I won’t either.
Just now as I’m writing this, a little breeze springs up and flows through the tree. As I’m watching, my tree starts to dance. There is hope. My tree is dancing again, and I’m going to dance right along with it. Come on, tree, you and I. We got this. Let’s dance.