The Most Beautiful Tree in the World

I live two blocks away from the most beautiful tree in the world. I hate myself for not knowing the details: what kind of tree it is, how old it is, how deep the roots must be. These are the kinds of details I know about digital cameras, MP3 players and laptop computers, but not trees.

The tree has thick, grey-brown bark, layers of short branches bristling with coarse green needles, and the top is pointed; it looks like a four-storey Christmas tree. Near the bottom, some of the branches grow longer, droop down like threads from the hem of a well-worn piece of clothing.

It is the most beautiful tree in the world because it sits in the centre of the sidewalk on the west side of Homer Street, just north of Nelson. The wide concrete there was imprinted with leaves while the cement dried to give the impression of always being littered with falling ground cover. The bureaucrats in this town must have a sense of wonder. Or perhaps it is the contractors.

It is the most beautiful tree in the world because of the sidewalk square that isn’t there; they removed it, or omitted it, to allow for the growth of roots. While other trees fell to the progression of the urban condo, this one, this lone tree, stood. I like imagining the architect, or engineer, standing on the bare building site years ago, looking at how this tree filters the sky: wrapping a piece of wide yellow tape around its trunk, he turns to his crew in their rumbling earth machines and shakes his head: No.

It is the most beautiful tree in the world because approaching it at night, you are aware of the shadow it creates around you even before you are aware it is towering above you. You reach the trunk in shock and look up into its bulk, a bruise in the sky that blots out all humankind’s progress. Boo, it says, smiling. Like a lover’s note falling out of an old book, it is the unexpected but cherished connection to something forgotten, perhaps even forsaken.

It is the most beautiful tree in the world because it has been in my mind for days, and lingers in my thoughts every time I descend to the pavement. And because even now, here in Kathy’s apartment, eating chocolate cowboy hats that came all the way from Calgary, it distracts me, flattens the smile on my face, and makes me wish we could be better than we are.

, , , , , ,

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)
  1. No trackbacks yet.