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The Man in the Tree Just Watches, Like Me

January 8, 2019

There is something to be said for doing nothing because out of nothingness usually comes something-ness. If we are willing to wait and be the observer of the moment, interesting things can take shape.

One soggy summer Sunday, I was enjoying just that: a whole lot of nothingness. It was drizzling and so a good day for staring out the window.

From my living room couch, I have a relatively pleasant view out my patio doors of the balcony. Beyond the balcony there are several very tall shady ash trees, home to crows, hummingbirds, cardinals, robins, squirrels, nuthatches, cicadas, and other assorted winged creatures. There is always something going on and worth watching in those trees.

On this day, lying on my couch, I stared out the patio doors to allow daydreams to percolate in my mind. Or, more realistically, I lay there and thought about things I should be doing instead of lying on my couch.

I shifted my gaze to focus on the beautiful trees swaying in the breeze. Gradually, I zeroed in on one area of the ash directly in front of the balcony—and saw something intriguing. Someone was staring back at me. Camouflaged among the fluttering leaves in shades of dark and light green, a solemn face emerged from the branches.

It was . . . a man . . .  a green leafy man.

I looked twice, then squinted once more at the tree. I opened the screen and peered at the tree more closely. The face peered back at me as if to say, “What do you see, in this green tree?”

A tingling sensation ran up my spine, and after several minutes of watching the green face, I grabbed my phone. I needed a witness, because I thought he would be gone once the winds picked up. I returned to snap a photo and he was still there, patiently watching from his hiding place, minding his own business. My jaw dropped, yet he maintained his composure.

After a half-hour or so, I became accustomed to him. Like the natural creatures that we both are, we went back to waiting and watching, doing little else that afternoon but listening to the rain drip from the leaves of the ash trees.

This winter, the city tree trimmers came up the street and pruned all of the trees. What used to be green leafy branches are now just stubs. The good news is spring will bring forth new leaves; however, it remains to be seen if the green leafy man will be among them.

Trees are good with change, aren’t they? Every season, they evolve by letting go; for them, it’s as natural as breathing . I, on the other hand, am still learning this lesson. It’s not necessarily fun to let go of attachments, I’ve discovered, but as time goes by I begin to see the value in it. If the trees do it, than so must I.

Heidi L. Friedrichs is a Milwaukee-based author. 

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