I wrote this as a comment in a metafilter thread. If you don’t know metafilter, you should. The topic was trees and plants we love.
I love the song we are singing today, the long slow tale of trees.
My first and best friend was an oak, and I grieve her still today. As a child, my fingers fit into the grooves of her bark. I spent hours discovering the lives hidden, making their home in her. Ants on their invisible highways. Caterpillars wondrous in their strangeness, moths well camouflaged discovered as hidden treasure, and once the glorious green of a luna stunning my eyes, a gift of beauty not meant for me but that I shared in nonetheless.
But that tree’s hours were long ago, in the way we humans measure time.
So today I celebrate the bloodberry, native here in this hot wet place. It flowers and fruits long, often at the same time. It grows fast, wild, abundant. Small leaves, small flowers, small fruit. Bees of many kinds crowd its blossoms. The tiny glowing red berries are just the size to feed baby birds, so many species will attend at once. The hawks are not much of a bother here, because the thin branches will not hold their weight, and the small leaves obscure birds who might otherwise be prey. After watching the wild mockingbirds harvest and feed their young, I gathered those same berries for orphans in my care, that they could know their native foods and have a better chance of surviving. I have seen ducks standing beneath it, gobbling every berry that can reach, and I have fallen into quiet laughter watching these ducks hop – hop! – to reach the brilliant sunstruck globes above them, and sometimes succeed.
It is not a tree. It is itself, a wiry and wild shrub, but I always feel there is a knowing in it. And when its children have escaped the flying ones and sprung up around their parent’s feet, I have lovingly rehomed them, to spread this wonder. I have moved to a new home myself, and the scion of the bloodberry grows here alongside me. And I think we will be good friends.