I want to Enjoy Nice Things, Despite this Lurking Estranged Bully
The blossoms that appear on the northern catalpa tree in June are orchidacae in appearance, the lips of their papery cream petals spreading delicately to reveal deep violet sprinkled dashes and golden yellow brush strokes within. They are fragrant, the kind of fragrance you may notice brushing past you in the early summer air. It’s the fragrance of jasmine, of honeysuckle, of Hawaiian pikake, a scent that makes you close your eyes wistfully on the inhale. If I were a little pollinating bee, I would relish the opportunity to wiggle into their gentle trumpet necks.
Within nature’s impeccable canvass, the flowers are professionally framed by the enormous slick green leaves, each as big as a dinner plate, sprouting a brilliant backdrop in thick, almost tropical bunches.
Ours is a tree planted shallow, in a hole atop a little hill dug fervently one day by my daughters and nieces. As such, its roots remain close to the ground and it has yet to show us much of a trunk heading up. Instead, the incredible branches spring away from the low, thick trunk in wide green arms, offering shady hiding nooks accessible by crawling up the soft fescue and into the deep dappled caverns underneath.
Today the blooms on the catalpa are sagging in the grey light of a thunderclapped morning, heavy summer rain coming steadily now, the sky’s muted light making the greens of the leaves and the grass take on a Technicolor hue. The birds are intermittently quiet, and the hiss and spatter of the rain offer a thrilling serenity as I take it all in through the giant picture windows, wrapped in a striped serape blanket.
I wrote about our catalpa tree several years ago, the summer we planted it. It is some of the most inspired writing I’ve done. Our tree has a pretty profound origin story for its life here on the gentle hill in our green backyard, and the therapeutic effect of writing about it has only increased my adoration of it. Our catalpa tree, and its significance to our family, is literally rooted into our story.
Which makes the fact that an unauthorized children’s book that uses my daughter as inspiration for the protagonist, and our catalpa tree as her refuge, makes my heart want to claw its protective teeth at the sky.
... To be continued
by Emily Nielsen
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
All posts are copyright ©Emily Nielsen