Every friday I take a walk. I take a walk at the same time to the same place, because I have to. This walk is usually hurried and uneventful, but today it surprised me as much more desirable walks often do. In reality, perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised that I stumbled upon such a sight outside an art-university, but even in this case, the mind boggles as to what could be behind such a spectacle. Simple as it seems, the oddity, and almost ritual appearance of this tree, which would otherwise stand barren at the mercy of winter, hides a complicated story. On first sight the colour feels like a blur out of the corner of the eye, and one might have to look twice before realising that the new unseasonal tones, are in fact plastic balls that have been strung together and hung in the branches. Just the lowest portion of the tree, where the limbs begin to fan out from the trunk have been decorated with the odd little spheres of bright, primary and secondary colours. Behind them sits a cold, grey backdrop of the art University, and a threatening cacophony of dull clouds. It looks out-of-place; this is something I would expect to see in the middle of foggy woodland, accompanied by stories of witches and their curses, not in the centre of a busy city.
In addition to the balloon like structures, a cloth ribbon has been tied around the middle of the trunk. This too is dashed with red blotches, one of which, on the right in this photograph, looks like the cross of St.George, the dragon slaying knight of English legend, who inspired the flag. For some reason, this reminds me of a death ritual; perhaps somebody is being mourned and memorialised, at the site of this preminent tree. I can imagine a young artist, sketch-book and pencil in hand, drawing the motions of inner-city life. A favourite spot to rest and reflect just across a busy road from a popular mall, and yet miles away in so many respects. Was it the memory of a particular friend, an artist and a dreamer, who immortalised this tree by their sheer enjoyment of its placement? And if so, who was this man or woman, and why this space, with all the beauty much quieter areas have to offer?
As I previously mentioned, I walk past this tree at least once a week, and I have never taken the time to notice it before. It’s simply a tree, an everyday sight in my world, and of little consequence. Yet somebody, whether a bygone student, as in my imagination, or a clever artist looking to make a bold statement, saw more than a tree; they saw a canvas, a potential. Maybe whomever crafted this picture wanted to make passers-by, like myself, see this also. Or, maybe, though I doubt, it is simply a Christmas endeavour, a make-shift Christmas tree for an otherwise un-celebratory college.
It makes me think about the fragility of the world, the importance of trees wo our very existance, of dreamers, and of stories yet to be told. I’m reminded of how even strong things can be fragile and beautiful, of how colour can be found in the depths of winter’s cold grasp. Maybe I am taking this decorated tree too far, but I was truly touched by it, and I applaud the creator. Today my walk did not feel so common, and it certainly felt less like something I had to do. My creative juices, as you can probably see, are flowing like a river in my head.
I have decided to give myself a challenge; by the end of January I will have written a short-story about this tree, with a possible explanation about how it came to be decorated in such a way. Although, I hope I never learn the truth behind it, for one could weave a thousand stories from this single, delicate sight, and I never want such potential to be crushed by the often disappointing matters of reality.