Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lessons from the Willow

Lessons from the Willow  by Teri H Hoover


Cut by the hands of my brother; the gift  of a willow branch wrapped in a water logged burlap bag.
Traveling down I-90 West from Buffalo to Pittsburgh, winding through West Virginia- all the way to here.
"Let it sit...", soaking in a 5 gallon plastic bucket filled with water,  "...till the thing grows roots." 

I planted the thing in a hole full of mud, on the side of the yard, close to the street.
Five years later, it was taller than the house.
Five years later, the house became too small.

Moving away, but not too far.
Another cutting set to soak, in a wrapping of burlap.
Again, waiting for the roots; a slip of a willow into the ground.
 
For the longest time, it hid between the boxwood bushes
and trembled. I promised my husband I would keep it from taking over the yard.
I lied.

Once it could see where it was going, it claimed the bluffs among the clouds for a playground.
Becoming herself
a vessel of benevolence and high spirits. 

Hovering over the new deck, watching as we prepared the wood for stain;
cleaning off the leaves, pounding in nail heads. As we finish the last coat
leaves fall in a flourish. We look up and see the willow shaking with laughter; her idea of a joke.  

A loose knotted conundrum of high spirited energy 
and easy going watchfulness. Faithful yet fitfull, in her flailing. 
Wild limbs tell of an oncoming storm. 

But on quiet days, gracefulness and equanimity return. She stands quiet as stone.  
And we hardly notice willow shadows that brush against our skin.We drink Corona with limes, 
while the willow drops leaves like prayers, into our evening meal.
`
More than twenty years has filled my friend the willow.
And I could not ask for more. She embraces this home and reaches out beyond. Swaying like a song and
waving to everyone who passes by. Not many will notice, but she does not mind

I crawl towards understanding all she has to share. I wait beneath the blessing of the willow.
As she waits for me to hear. Softly swaying in every season with bouts of intractable wildness. 
Slowly reaching toward the sun, light falls through her branches.






This weeks words from the Sunday Whirl:
 bluffs, willow, corona, brush, trembled, mud, crawl, vessels, nail, stain, shadows, stones

Notes: I deeply admire the willow... 

Additional notes: I was asked if this piece is autobiographical. It is indeed. My love of the willow began as a child. I remember moving into a new home in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY. At the age of five we moved to our new home. I can remember how unsettled I was by the bare expanse of the new subdivision. Thankfully, the neighbor behind us planted a row of twelve, quick growing willows. From the window of my second story bedroom I watched these willows cavort with the sunset... and swore I would have a willow in my yard when I grew up. And I do. A large wonderful willow blessing.

Here is a link to another piece I wrote about watching the willows from my bedroom window.Solace is a Place  

or click down for the full piece below-



Solace is a Place



March 13, 2012- Solace is a Place by Teri H Hoover 
Process Notes first-After a month of reading Margo's prompts about place-I have written what I think is a piece about place.
Margo Roby Prompts~Wordgathering-I loved this prompt and hope someday to complete it -Lying in Hammock but for now I have this.
 Solace is a Place 
I pass by the clothes line loaded with laundry- 
sagging in the middle.
I recall laying on crisp, clean, sheets
a silent solace 
summer sweetness, a hidden gift in every fold.  
I was in bed as the sun nestled itself into the tangle of willow tree branches, beyond the edge of our half acre yard. Gracefully the willows stood, the only reminder that something could grow taller than a two story house.  They stood above the garden where my father grew his corn and tomatoes. Some nights I saw him there, a rounded back silhouette, pulling weeds. The stunted maples, poplars, and pin oaks would take another 20 years, before it would be realized they were planted too close, to each other, and the house. No one imagined how these small things would grow.  But before the poplar tree shaded my bedroom window, I watched, as the sun tucked itself into the blanket of willow branches. Lighting up millions of green leaves, that became wavelike in the winds that blew off  Lake Erie, 30 miles away. Comforted by all those roots, reaching deep into rich, moist, soil of Western New York. 
Together, the sun and I would go to bed on those late summer days...  I reaching deep into the sweet smell of sheets off the line and the willows reaching deeper into the earth. Both finding the relief and solace of something that held us safe.











50 comments:

  1. Here we go with TLOTR again! Except your willow is a little more benevolent. Love what you did with Corona! I'll be drinking one in about four days [I realise I can get one here, but I always wait for SA].
    The back story is lovely, as is the friendship with the willow. I feel the same for my maples, although I will have to leave them behind, some day [a little too tall for SA!]
    'But on quiet days, gracefulness and equanimity return. She stands quiet as stone./
    And we hardly notice willow shadows that brush against our skin.We drink Corona with limes,/
    while the willow drops leaves like prayers, into our evening meal.' -- such a lovely, calming, stanza.
    May your summer be full of such moments.
    xom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margo- My willow is highly evolved and thankfully very sweet. Thanks as always for your thoughts. Here's to the clinking of beer bottles. Enjoy.

      Delete
    2. Margo-I forgot to add, I really would like your other thoughts on this piece. Thoughts related to structure and dreaded punctuation. I will connect with you over on you blog since you may not come back here to read my replies.

      Delete
  2. Terri,

    This so sweet and so wonderful. Rather like having had a pet for so many years. This willow is and has been so much part of your life from that first branch given to you by your mother.
    I enjoyed reading this very much....

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eileen, I am quite fond of my willow. Willows go back even further for me... I wrote about that once. I should locate that and include the link. I think I will, thank you for reminding me.

      Delete
  3. A lovely portrait poem - I have had a willow tree in every garden I have ever had (lots)and love them, so your poem spoke volumes to me. The laughter of the willow for shaking her leaves all over your clean deck made me laugh, too. Mean, aren't I.

    Is there a word missing from this line "More than twenty years has filled the my friend the willow." ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Viv- As a child I remember watching a line of 12 willows from my bedroom willow. A garden is never complete without a willow. I have been asked if this is autobiographical by Marianna- I think I will add this bit of the comment to my notes above.

      Also, I would really value your input to this poem sometime. What word do you think is missing? I was attempting to say that the willow is over 20 years old, and envisioned time filling her up. Thoughts? And since I am pretty new to writing, I fret over punctuation and structure. I would love to hear your insights there as well.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Posted for Marianne-
    http://herwordsbloomed.blogspot.com/2012/06/wordle-60-alone.html

    Hi Teri!
    I'm contacting you here because my computer is not allowing me to post comments on your blog, A small stone Gathering. I need to update Firefox on my computer and I'm "having technical difficulties."

    I wanted you to know I'm reading your submissions. Your story, Lessons From The Willow, is beautiful. As I read along, I found myself hoping it was a true story. It's such a hopeful, positive, inspiring piece. And you've told it beautifully!

    I hope to get this problem fixed soon, but until then, I'll try to comment this way, if you don't mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marianne-

      Thanks so much for finding a way to comment. Computers can be so difficult...kind of like the willow throwing leaves about. This piece is indeed autobiographical. I will be re- editing to add a link to another piece about my childhood love of willows.

      Again thanks for tracking down a way to comment.

      Delete
  6. "bouts of intractable wildness" ... a achingly lovely - sweet and yet centered authentic poem - quite grand. Thank you, willow played a role in my childhood, but not in quite the same way - this poem and the accompanying piece are just lovely as they sway and stay with me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pearl- "...bouts of intractable wildness". The willow and I are like that sometimes. Thanks for taking time to read both pieces.

      Delete
  7. There is something deeply majestic about willow trees, isn't there. I love the life you've given yours and, the fact that she has a sense of humour too.
    a really lovely read this morning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DDT- I have begun finding a sense of humor in the world around me lately. And that is a very good thing. Thanks for such a nice comment.

      Delete
  8. Beautiful pair of story poems, Teri. I also admire willows, although I haven't had any in my life to the extent you have.

    I think Viv was wondering about what should follow the extra "the" after "filled" in this line: "More than twenty years has filled the my friend the willow." It looks like you started to go a different direction, then chose the sentence we see and simply missed deleting that word.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Traci- Thanks for taking time to read both. I have just read your piece and will put the link here, http://poemflow.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/willow/, for future reference.

      As I said at your place, your piece could fit as a prelude to this one. Willows do weep when they see the struggles of others. This comforted me as a child; to know I was not alone.

      Oh and thanks for helping sort out what Viv meant! I have fixed it now.

      Delete
  9. This is wonderful. I really liked this stanza:

    For the longest time, it hid between the boxwood bushes
    and trembled. I promised my husband I would keep it from taking over the yard.
    I lied.

    Willow trees are incredibly beautiful and life-enhancing. I completely relate to your love of a tree, and that tree making home, home. I feel the same about my oak :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nan- I really did think the willow would do so well where I planted it. I was hoping my husband would grow into the willow. He did. Oaks are truly amazing- their longevity and steadfastness is truly a blessing. I love trees.

      Delete
  10. This is wonderful! I especially liked this stanza:

    For the longest time, it hid between the boxwood bushes
    and trembled. I promised my husband I would keep it from taking over the yard.
    I lied.

    Willow trees are incredibly beautiful. I could completely relate to the idea of the tree making home, "home." I feel the same way about my oak. Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your love for willows shines through, Teri. I love the unfolding of the willow's place in your life as the poem progresses. Isn't it cool how easily they root? I have a pussy willow in my back yard that started as a surprise rooting from some branches I picked and placed on top of the piano in a vase. I left them long enough, that they surprised me and rooted. Your poem reads like a tribute to willows. It is outstanding. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brenda- I have tried to grow several Pussy Willows, to no avail. Maybe I will try again. Thanks for the great words this week!

      Delete
  12. Until this home we didn't have space for a willow. But having a creek...well that made it easier for my husband to say yes as long as she was planted away from the house - just safer all around he said, shallow roots seeking water could invade home water lines and a strong wind could topple her and damage the house (as another willow almost did another neighbor who planted a willow in the middle of no where without a water source). I brought my willow home over twenty years ago - I could put my hand around her trunk, she went from the dash board to the back of the station wagon we had at the time...and now is the home to that huge mystery nest (could be owl or hawk). Almost everyone this side of the creek has at least one willow in their yard. I can so relate on so many of your lovely points. Willow leaves - laughing enchanting eyes always watching us :) Lovely pieces both of them. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jules- your husband sounds like mine. But alas, I was a bad wife and planted my willow 20 feet from the house... it shades our deck and bedroom. I am living on the edge under my willow. Thanks as always for all the encouragement.

      Delete
  13. Teri- I love how you have personified the willow, especially the laughing and -

    Once it could see where it was going, it claimed the bluffs among the clouds for a playground.
    Becoming herself
    a vessel of benevolence and high spirits

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurie- we are blessed by the many moods of nature all around us.

      Delete
  14. I'm impressed with how you used the words to write so beautifully about something that is meaningful to you! I don't see many willows where I live. Once in a while though I come upon one. We used to have one in our backyard when I was a child.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary- I owe the willows in my life. It was a great feeling to bring my thankfulness to words.

      Delete
  15. Teri, as I read this I was hoping it was true. What a delight to find out it is :) Lovely portrait of the willow tree.

    Pamela

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pamela- it does have a bit of an underdog feel, doesn't it?

      Delete
  16. Terri, your poem brought so many associations for me. When buying our first home, I made my choice because of the willow in the front yard. I have written many poems about trees because I think of myself as a sister to trees. This is a birthday poem I wrote a while back by that name. http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/sister-to-trees-birthday-poem/

    Thanks so much for the memories,

    Elizabeth
    http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The addie I just left for the poem didn't work very well. So here it is again,

      Elizabeth
      http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/sister-to-trees-birthday-poem/

      Delete
    2. Elizabeth- Choosing a place because of the tree in the front yard makes perfect sense to me. I think the trees, and nature as a whole, has taken care of me for longer than I realize. Thank you for your comment and link.

      Delete
  17. Teri - what lovely homage to this grand tree. I am almost as fond of willows as I am of birches. We have a brittle-branch willow in our back yard which is a whole different animal but still one of which I am inordinately fond, and a pussy willow tree at the front that has a history similar to the one you recount in your poem - I was supposed to "mind" it from its beginnings in a jar and always keep it pruned well so it would stay a bush and never become a tree - hah - it's over thirty feet tall now so I think the bush stage is a goner ...

    I so appreciate the obvious fondness you express for this tree and how much personality you invest it with ... an excellent poem.

    http://aleapingelephant.blogspot.ca/2012/06/black-webbed-claw.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon-I think to be inordinately fond of our trees, and nature in general, is a good thing. My bond with the willow is a childhood connection and my most favorite tree because of that.

      Delete
  18. Teri -
    I'm glad to have chosen the word "willow" if for no other reason than to read this poem. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing your love of the willow with us. I thought to choose a favorite line, but there are too many! You "captured" the tree so well.
    ~Paula

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you, Paula- The tree captured me, which made it truly easy to write about.

      Delete
  19. This is such a beautiful tribute to your willow! It's so visual, I can really see that graceful swaying tree. Even before I read your comments, I knew it had to be about something real, and not fiction. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inger- Writing from vivid memories makes writing easier for me. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  20. "Lessons from the Willow" flowed so organically. It just opened up as I read it. It's lovely. I really like the sense of place after "I lied" - those last stanzas are my favorites.

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard- the progression of this piece followed chronological time - it helped the flow. The "I lied" line was fun.

      Delete
  21. All those Buffalo references...you had me at I-90. Born, raised and still reside in the Queen City. You've given me a new respect for the willow. Sitting on my porch looking at the shadow of the one across from my yard. Great work, Teri.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Walt- I remember when I was first learning to drive... the I-90 terrified me. Now it is just the last leg of the drive before I get back to the first willow tree. Thanks for the fun comment.

      Delete
  22. Teri, Wonderful, willowy poem. I really like "a loosely knotted conundrum . . ."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sara - I love contrast contained in one sentence. Thank you.

      Delete
  23. I felt the same about a Eucalyptus tree I planted as a twelve inch high 'baby', but in my tiny garden, after it eclipsed my house, it had to go...trees are always special, but the ones with dainty waiving branches, like willows, are the most graceful...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jinksy- There are so many ways that nature gives us blessings. Sometimes those blessings can get too big huh? I do find the willow brings me great peace.

      Delete
  24. I'm new to this group, and somewhat new to poetry writing. After reading your Sunday Whirl, all I can say is, someday, I hope I can write poems as beautifully as you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rosanna- Thank-you for stopping by and WELCOME to the wordle group. I look forward to your writing and seeing you here often! Thank you for the sweet comment- it means a lot - as I felt/feel/think the same thoughts sometimes. Well a lot of the time.

      Delete
  25. Wonderful memories of the beauty of the willow.

    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Anna- the willow is the keeper of memories.

      Delete

Comments are welcome and appreciated, thanks so much for stopping by.