Roma, 14 febbraio 2021
I have been writing this letter to you since day one. Only I’ve not been able to put the words onto page yet because everyday there is something to add to the ever- growing list of that which I am grateful for. The list is as ever-growing as you are ever-green.
From the moment we met I knew we would be forever friends. I drove into the parking lot and there you were, splendidly towering over the building and you were beautiful. If I had to choose one thing off the list of that which I am grateful to you for it would be your constancy. You are constant. You are trust embodied. You are always present. Always here. Sunrise, sundown, 24/7, no matter the hour, when I look out the window there you are, your generous branches coiling up to the sky, like a furry arrow pointing to infinity.
When I return home after a day of wandering around Rome, clambering up ancient steps that lead from one ruin to another, after feasting on Raffaello’s proportions or playing with Caravaggio’s light, after walking the timeline of history that Rome is I come home to you, to your golden ratio, to your sacred geometry, your branches designing fractals in the sky, and realize that no temple exists more beautiful than you. Art can only emulate your perfection.
During Italy’s 2020 Lockdown when we weren’t allowed to leave our apartments except for medical emergencies or securing provisions for two whole months you were my life-line. I have never been so trapped in my life. Not being able to go outside, to step into a sliver of yard even, was excruciating. My muscles were sore from not being able to move around freely and I began to experience a sensation of not only claustrophobia but of withdrawal from nature as well. You were my only connection to nature. And so began my daily visits with you, intentional time during the day where I’d sit out on the balcony and talk to you. I was Rapunzel and you were my Tower. You were such a good listener throughout those weeks! You took me under your branches and taught me everything I know about listening to another, about quiet observation, and about being in harmony with one’s environment. You modelled it throughout that eerily silent Lockdown Spring, when only the wind was allowed to move around. When she blew your branches billowed and swayed, your needles spoke to me in a metallic whisper, like tinsel on a Christmas tree, as the wind rushed through them. You swayed to the rhythm of whatever came your way, wind, rain, shine. Time. One morning, such was my need to be close to you, I held tightly on to the iron rail, painted a shade inspired by your palette of pine, extending my left arm out as far as I could, fingers unfurling toward your needles, wanting just like Michelangelo’s Adam to receive your spark of life. To this day I track the growth of that one tuft I almost touched.
You are the gentlest of giants, so kind and giving. Whenever I need support you let me lean my back against your thick bark and you remind me to be still and just breathe. You were generous as well to the family of crows who nested at the top of your boughs that Spring. You gave them a place to stay, to build a nest, to raise a family. You showed sweet patience with the fledgling who would peck at your bark in boredom as he waited for his parents to return with food. Then later, when he learned that cracked walnuts were set out on the balcony for him, he used your nooks and crannies as a pantry, flying between me and you all day long. I think that tickled you, to have his beak poke at you here and there looking for where he had hid away a nut.
And even now that we have re-gained some sense of normalcy in this new world of Covid-19 and are able to come and go somewhat freely again, spend as much time in the centro storico or in nature as we’d like, everyday that I am out I pine to come back home to you. I feel safe in your proximity. I feel at home with you.
For that Dearest Tree I am so grateful. You have given me roots, the anchor I needed during times of trouble and turbulence; you have given me a sense of home. Simply put, thank you. I am ever grateful for the gift of you in my life.
P.S.: Enclosed is a portrait of you