Will’s Tree

One summer day several years ago, when our son Will was still living at home, I asked him to go bushhog around the pond. For some reason he spared a little sycamore sapling.  Had I been doing that job I would have mowed it down. Had he asked me I would have told him to mow it down. But in the years that have followed, that little tree has remained.  If Will did the bushhogging, he cut around it.  If I did it, I was careful not to harm Will’s tree.  Even the beavers have left it alone. I took this picture of it last week.


May it someday be a grand old shadetree, shading Will’s descendants on hot summer days.  May those people of the future know it still as Will’s tree.

14 comments on “Will’s Tree

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, Some times the most simple things become the most memorable. I too would have cut that baby down. I have a Sycamore tree in my front yard. It’s hated by the entire neighborhood. I can’t even hide the fact that I have one. It’s a grand old tree of probably almost 50 or more years old. It has stood up against numerous storms with only minimal damage. Why does the neighborhood dislike the tree? Well, it has huge leaves the dribble off the tree all winter long. The wind catches the big leaves and blesses the whole neighborhood with the distribution of dead leaves. Since I have the only Sycamore tree on the block, they all know where the leaves come from. I suspect that Will’s tree, that stands erect and stately, out in the pasture by the pond would be quite a different story but for urban living a Sycamore is some what a nuisance. Don’t get me started on our wonderful state appointed tree, the cotton wood. It’s very close to a noxious weed in my opinion.

    Have a great Memorial day.


    • Bill says:

      I know you’re not much of a fan of poetry, but your sycamore, which has “stood up against numerous storms with only minimal damage” reminds me of this poem by Wendell Berry:

      The Sycamore

      In the place that is my own place, whose earth
      I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
      a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
      Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,
      hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
      There is no year it has flourished in
      that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it
      that is its death, though its living brims whitely
      at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.
      Over all its scars has come the seamless white
      of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history
      healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection
      in the warp and bending of its long growth.
      It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
      It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.
      It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
      In all the country there is no other like it.
      I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
      the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
      I see that it stands in its place and feeds upon it,
      and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.


  2. shoreacres says:

    Will’s tree reminds me of some unknown municipal mower(s) in town who always, but always leave good stands of wildflowers alone when they show up to do their deed. All last summer, we enjoyed trumpet vine blooming on telephone poles and patches of primrose because of their care to “go around” them.

    Of course they don’t last as long as Will’s tree – their natural life span is shorter. But it’s good to see special bits of nature allowed to grow and thrive throughout their natural season.


    • Bill says:

      I like that person. It seems to me to be a sort of guerrilla gardening.
      We should probably start mowing less. I’ve cut back this year and am trying to think differently about how things are supposed to look.


  3. What a beautiful idea … trees … and all this one implies.


  4. I couldn’t think of a more fitting memorial. Good for Will. –Curt


  5. EllaDee says:

    “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. ” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


  6. df says:

    That tree must be deeply special to you; I know what you mean about hoping it will be there providing shade to future generations. I have a son with the same name and I think they share a love of trees and what they can grow to be. Lovely post, Bill.


    • Bill says:

      I have grown fond of that tree. Last year when beavers were gnawing down all the trees around the pond it was that tree that I was most concerned about. Thankfully, it survived. 🙂

      My (now grown) son visited this weekend. I confess to missing the days when he was a boy romping around the farm. The tree is a little reminder of that.

      Glad to know your son has a love for trees too. 🙂


  7. associatedluke says:

    This reminds me of a Greek proverb: A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

    Will is indeed wise and will better our world. Thanks for your part in bringing him here.


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