The Library Basement
Reading under ground

One Tree, Two Trees

Published: 2010-12-26 14:17:00
Category: memory

I catch the bus home every day in the neighborhood behind my work place.  Right up the street from my stop there is this huge, beautiful tree.  It is the kind of tree which you can only find in an older housing development. Truly I am no good at guessing height, but I would put it right around 90 feet, and it has got to be at least 60 feet wide, so wide that it hangs way over the road.  An uncountable number of leaves fall from it every year.  They form a thick red blanket on the underlying homes, lawns, sidewalks and roads.  This thing is big.

As I said, this tree is right up from my stop, so I get to regard it each day while I am waiting for the bus.  One day, however, I happened to look over at it from a different angle as I was approaching my stop.  I was shocked to realize that it was not one tree but two!  There were two trunks of the same type of tree reaching for the sky, and by some accident their combined crowns appeared to form one uniform crown.  I realized I had never noticed this because at my bus stop I cannot see the trunks because of smaller tree which blocks the view.  Nonetheless, I was taken aback that I could be so wrong on so basic an observation - namely the quantity of trees making up a single crown.

Some months or perhaps a year later I was walking to work from the gym.  The gym happens to be up the same street where I catch my bus, so I had an opportunity to see the tree from the opposite angel from which I typically regard it.  And, lo and behold, it was really three trees!  Somehow when I first noticed the second trunk, I completely missed the third trunk, which was directly behind the second, hidden from view.  So now my mind was blown yet again, that in spite of my new observation of the second trunk, I was totally oblivious to the third.

I am pretty sure now that I have the number of trunks pegged at three.  I carefully examined it from many angles, and still only counted three trunks, so I feel fairly confident in my estimation (barring the sprouting of a new trunk like a banyan tree).  Three trunks grew in proximity to one another, and what was separate at the bottom became unified at the top, at least it looked that way.  Now I regard myself as something of a connoisseur of multiple trees comprising a single crown.

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© Nathan D. Smith
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