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If you spend time with a tree, it will share its story, says Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist professor at SUNY and author of Braiding Sweetgrass (2013), her way of introducing her students to their classroom forest. And it’s precisely story that tweaks imaginations and sparks fire; without it, we languish.

From my study window, I glimpse my neighbor’s golden raintree thriving by his driveway, its growth since last year, considerable. I used to walk by it in all seasons: summer’s clusters of small yellow flowers mantling the ground beneath with the appearance of wetness—thus its name; autumn’s bronzing its fruit into what looks like three-pointed Chinese pagodas, only slowly dropping them; and winter’s sloughing off gray leaves and black pods to inquisitive gray squirrels.

So, what does this golden raintree say to me? Have I picked up its story? We both have been around for some years and I’ve been gifted with this new day to appreciate summer’s pristine splendor: the primary greens, still glossy, and the secondary yellows, still sun-catching—they play off each other and invite us to do the same.

Although change can be hairy at times, still it happens. The golden raintree is the same tree, but different and more herself. Yes, she’s feminine and lends herself to storytelling.

Look for her along city streets, backyards, and be delighted.

For several weeks, tiger lilies have been blooming. Talk of the Town, a popular species in our neighborhood, flourishes along fences and side gardens. Morning breezes excite their six-sculpted petals trembling with stamens and pistils; their orangeness ushers in summer’s brash colors.

Tiger lilies have been around for a long time. Tenth-century Chinese literature describes them planted in rows and cultivated for herbs and food. They also appear in the 1753 Species Plantarum, by Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician, and one of the fathers of modern ecology.

And in 1804, William Kerr traveled to Canton, China, and brought tiger lilies to Britain for the formal gardens of country estates, and from there, to they came America.

Looking deeper, we find this ordinary perennial rooted within the mystery of life and death. We, too, have a similar rootedness. How many springs have we experienced, only to move into still another summer, followed by autumn, and winter? Only to be restored, once again, by the fresh orangeness of tiger lilies glistening with morning dew.

 

 

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