I have two willow trees at my property’s edge. I have spent a few peaceful summer days in a hammock between their trunks and under the privacy of their foliage curtain. Today the winter has robbed them of their greenery, and they stand stark and naked in the weak sunlight.
I feel exposed under their see-through canopy, in view of the surrounding houses as I sit on a forgotten swing we installed years ago, the heavy rope cutting into the branches. I reach to pat the trunk as an apology. I noticed that the trunk of this tree is thicker than her sister’s. The sister is slender and tall, – graceful. The tree I sit under is shorter and sturdy, – strong. On close inspection I notice other differences – my twin willows are more different than I thought. I wonder why two trees planted at the same time and growing in the same environment could be so different. Without their summer attire, the differences are more noticeable. Standing naked and exposed, I can see the true character of each tree.
I spend time with each one, wondering why one sister is one way and the other is the way she is. I notice the trunk on the shorter sister is darker near the ground. I speculate that this is because this tree is closer to the cove that fills up with water as the lake rises, sometimes pooling around its trunk. The taller sister shades her twin as the sun crosses the sky, her limbs having no obstacles as she reaches for the light.
I notice the trees’ branches intertwine – connecting them to each other – maybe their roots do the same. The sisters need each other – or maybe one needs the other for its strength. The spotlight could be a burden with its unrelenting heat.
Am I more like the strong tree or the graceful one? Do I desire to be in the spotlight or have well-established roots? Do I wish to be more like the other?
A gentle breeze stirs the bare branches, and it sounds like the two sisters are whispering to each other. Do they gossip about me as I contemplate which one has it better? Are they laughing at me for my foolishness? I imagine they are amused by me for I am wasting time comparing when they are equally beautiful.