52/365 What I Learned From Magnolia Trees

Up the block from my house there is magnolia tree. I pass it everyday as I walk Peanut, and as Peanut stops to take a whiz in the neighbors’ bushes I look to see how the blossoms are coming along. This isn’t the only magnolia tree in our neighborhood, it’s not even the only magnolia tree on the block and now that spring has officially arrived the magnolia trees in my neighborhood are all beginning to show off. I don’t know what your personal preference for trees are and you may not care about trees at all, but for some reason these are my favorite.

Peanut doesn’t seem to care that much either so we just continue on our way and other then the brief admiration that I have on my walks I don’t spend much of my free time thinking about magnolias, or any trees for that matter. It’s weird how you go through your days registering a tiny little details, and it doesn’t occur to you until later that something is strange. Or what’s even stranger is when something so insignificant suddenly occupies so much thinking space.

Today Peanut and I did our usual walking pattern, saw at least four magnolia trees and then went home. After sitting in my bed loathing the most recent case of writer’s block my dad announced that he needed a ride to pick up our van from its oil change. The whole drive there I didn’t think about trees, and the whole way back I didn’t think about them either until I came up the road and saw the two magnolia trees that sit on the same block from a distance.

The magnolia tree closest to my house seems to be failing and the leaves are falling off at a rapid pace. While the other tree down the block seems to be in full blossom. The healthier one sits back further on the neighbor’s property and is elevated on a slight hill. As I parked my car I found myself feeling sorry for the sadder looking tree. Why was it doing so poorly in comparison? Does a block really make that much of a difference?

I did what any normal person would do and googled “death of a magnolia tree. ” I came across this article where an author was answering a concerned home-owners question about her magnolia tree. The author said that based on the pictures she didn’t think the tree was knocking on death’s door, but it didn’t appear to be a healthy, well adjusted tree either. “This likely has something to do with events in the tree’s past, such as construction or filling.”

I started to wonder what happened in my tree’s past. What previous neighbor inflicted harm on this beauty. I tried to think about previous construction that has happened on our street but so far I can’t think of anything. As I read the response further the author ended it with this:

“Do not expect your magnolia to look as full, lush and green as a vigorous, healthy magnolia tree. Whatever happened to your tree in the past, it’s likely to stay thin looking for the rest of its life.”

Wait, I don’t think we’re talking about trees anymore. For some reason when I read that, a little sting registered in my heart. Poor tree. Whatever happened is going to keep them looking sad for the rest of their life. I know I shouldn’t care that much about a tree, circle of life and all that, but that last quote really stuck with me.

Our past has a funny way of haunting us. It leaves us with scars and tainted memories, but after existing for a certain time and experiencing so many heartbreaks you kind of end up like my poor magnolia. It’s no longer fair to look at you as if you’ve never been touched by the world. Instead we should be applauded for standing despite past events. It feels like I have more in common with a tree than I thought possible but I hope our similarities end after a certain point.

I don’t want to be thin looking for the rest of my life. I mean,  I want to be thin looking but you get it. I hope that the tree author is wrong, and I hope that the spring shapes up nicely for the magnolia tree up the block. Perhaps there are better things ahead.


Day Fifty-Two 

photo credit: Tulip magnolia flowers, sooc, Anderson, South Carolina via photopin (license)


2 Replies to “52/365 What I Learned From Magnolia Trees”

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful post, this is my (hopefully) encouraging take on it, as a gardener, rather than a philosopher 🙂
    Thing with trees is that they’re all as varied as humans. It may be that a number of Magnolias in the next block went through the exact same unpleasant experiences, but whereas your unfortunate Magnolia couldn’t quite muster the strength to overcome, the others did. It may even be that your sickly Magnolia defies the odds in future and shoots up with mid-life vigour, I’ve certainly seen that happen, with some TLC and careful pruning. Gardeners can be a pessimistic bunch, so don’t take their words too seriously.
    I think we all have the power to regenerate, trees and humans alike, at least a little.

    Liked by 1 person

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