This particular pepper tree is one of my favorite trees. Does it look as though it has a face to you? It does to me...when I look at it from across the street, I see eyes, a nose - and of course, it's mouth, open wide like it's yawning. Sometimes it looks very human, to me - other times, I think it looks kind of like a Yorkshire terrier. Either way, it just makes me happy to look at it.
It lives a couple of towns away - but I try to visit it whenever I find myself in that area. I like to think it remembers me - "Oh good! Here's the nice human that cleans out the trash that some litterbug left behind in my knothole." Because sadly, several times that's what I've found, when I've come to visit my tree friend - even though there's a dumpster about 30 feet away - somehow people apparently view that opening in the tree as a convenient trash can - rather than the enchanted doorway to a fairy realm, that I see it as. Sometimes I think the world would be a happier place if more people would anthropomorphize trees - or at least imagine that there were elves or little nature spirits watching how we treated them. Think about that, you tree-pelting litterbugs! Elves and nature spirits may be watching you disapprovingly, and who knows what they may decide to do about it!
But I digress...
Thinking about what it is to be rooted. Like my friend here, I've been rooted in one spot for a long time. This may seem boring or even stifling to some, but it can actually be rather liberating - to stay in one place long enough to really know it fully. You know where things are - and why things are the way are, and sometimes even who made them that way.
The tree knows through its roots where all the pebbles and stones in the soil are, and how to grow around them, and which direction to stretch out its little tendril roots towards that drip from the garden watertap. Even though it may not like that the road got built so close to its roots - it's had lots of time to gradually adjust to it, and work its roots further down below it. Now, it hardly even notices the cars that pass by, except for the ones that stop beside it to visit for a moment. There are birds that come to visit it, too, bringing it news about its seedlings, and the other trees. It knows all the local earthworms and ants, tunnelling around through the soil, loosening it up, so the tree can spread its roots more easily. It loves the snacks they leave behind for it, too. It considers the bees, worms and bugs good friends - even though the humans don't seem to like them very much.
In a way, I can identify with that. Living in this valley for so long, where I've put down roots, I know which roads to avoid - and what the best detours are to get around them. I know exactly which nursery to go to, if I want to buy a fruit tree or a tomato plant. If I want some unique plants, I know that the Horticultural Society will hold its plant sale during its garden show the last week in April. When I bring the plants home, I'll have a fairly good idea about which part of the yard to plant them in - I've had years of trial and error to find out. Over the course of the years I've found, that even though the yard on the leftside of the driveway gets plenty of sun all summer, leading you to believe it would be a great place for all kinds ofsun-loving plants - come winter, it's in shade most of the time, and winterfrosts leave behind ice that will keep the ground frozen for days. Which the lilacs, apple trees, and tulips actually seem to love - but most everything else recommended for our area, just can't tolerate (sorry about that, Mexican heather, and all you other plants that I inadvertently sent to an early demise, during those first years here).
Since I first sprouted in this valley, I know where and when to find the things I need, and most of what I want. If I'm craving junk food, I know where I can find the best of it. If I'm on a health kick, I'll avoid the vitamin chainstores in the mall, with their limited brands and higher prices, and the sales going to some distant corporation. Instead I know where the longtime local health food store is - since it's a little bit off the beaten path, and those who aren't from around here, may not even know it exists - but it's where I know I can choose from a wide variety, and have my greenbacks go to other people with roots here. Or if it's Thursday, my roots know to stretch towards downtown, to the 'busy bees and ants' - the local farmers at Market Night to find what I need.
I tried transplanting a few times when I was still a sapling, but I nearly pined away, longing for my home ground, where there's just the right amounts of sun and shade and water. The familiar shapes of the mountains and valley. I even missed the taste of the water from the natural springs here. I've seriously put down some roots, if no other water tastes as sweet to me.
Because I've been rooted here so long, it may seem as though I might become rootbound - wound up so tightly in my little spot in the garden that I wouldn't know what's going on in any other part of the yard - but thanks to the little birds on the Internet, I still get to hear about other parts of the world outside, and find out how the other trees are growing.
I know we don't all have the same ideal growing conditions - and some people may be more like plants that need to move, in order to grow. They may need to float like kelp, or when they reach a certain stage of life, roll about like tumbleweeds. But sending my roots down deep here, is the growth pattern that seems to work for me.
Though some of us may have roots more like tumbleweeds than trees - until we get that whole 'space travel thing' perfected, in a way we're all rooted here on this little planet. I hope we take good enough care of this earth where we're planted, that today's little acorns can grow up into mighty oaks. Or, little peppercorns into yawning peppertrees, as the case may be.
Hope the Earth is having a happy day - and all of us on it, too.