rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Broken Pine

Across the street is a pine, damaged some dozen years ago in a blizzard. It was the youngest of the trees in its grove, no more than forty feet in height, and under the weight of snow borne well by the older trees, its crown was bent until the slender trunk snapped, at about twenty-five feet. As broken ponderosas sometimes do, it survived, but through the following years the once-straight bole has twisted and gnarled, as though it felt the pain of the trauma. The tree's growth was largely diverted into the limbs, which have also become twisted and strange, jutting out at odd angles. Lately, whenever I look at this tree, I am reminded of Toulouse-Lautrec.

Though it has regained some of its lost height, it remains less than half as tall as the older, well formed trees around it. Among them, it is an odd grotesque. In its contorted dwarfishness, it might almost be another species -- some hardy survivor forever struggling against powerful winds on craggy mountainside or sea cliff. In its knobbed and twisted asymmetry there is a strange beauty. Too, the absence of its crown opens a window to the southwestern sky, where this time of year the afternoon sunshine falls through, washing the pale lilies with light and drawing a path of bright green across the lawn, where my cats bask in the warmth or chase flitting insects. And then, on partly sunny days, I can sit and watch an ever-changing tableau of clouds drift through the space revealed by the absence of the tree's crown.

The clouds themselves are reminiscent of Lautrec's paintings of swirling dancers and awkward, irregular faces; flying white petticoats, and puffy hats over mounded flesh. On brighter days, how like the clouds can be to those mounds of snow which broke the tree! But most clouds, though kin to those which brought that snow, are light and frivolous things, and do no harm. The pictures they form, revealed in that gap between the taller, undamaged pines, are reminders of how broken things can reveal grace, and of how casual seems that grace which redeems destruction.

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