Outside my kitchen window, the London Plane Tree has long intrigued me with its vertical playground for mating squirrels, its organic shade cooling several houses, its variegated trunk of browns/greys with seasonal shedding, and its autumnal blanket of hand-sized leaves swept along the plank fence. Today’s soft breezes smooch and tease hairy-like limbs burgeoning with buds the size of pebbles.

Builders of my bungalow must have planted this tree in the 1940s and tended its needs. After decades of growth, other owners crowned it, leaving an unseemly ridge, from which great limbs continued their prodigious growth, skywards. When leafed out, its overarching branches obscure the sky.

Such seasonal beauty constellates the ancient symbol of the Tree of Life within my psyche. Found in many of the world’s mythologies, religious and philosophical traditions, it connects heaven with the underworld. Such renditions speak to the innate yearning for union with the Ultimate that, alone, gives earth-life purpose and texture. One example is the thirteenth-century Yggdrasil, an immense mythical ash tree that plays a central role in Norse cosmology; it was depicted in 1847 by the Danish printmaker Oluf Olufsen Bagge.



In my backyard, though, I have my own Tree of Life, a daily reminder of my integration within the mystery of ongoing creation: An additional fourteen feet have grown since moving here. And still more to come…