I once bought three small weeping higan cherry trees, and I dreamed of their graceful limbs dripping with pastel blossoms in the spring. Within two years they all were stricken with a blight that caused large sections to suddenly wither and die. Soon one tree perished, followed by another. The third tree was struggling, but still alive. I sprayed it with a copper/sulphur combination, but I had little hope.
"I'm so sad," I said to my husband. "I think I'm going to cut that tree down and be done with it."
I didn't get around to it for several weeks, but one day I took my hand saw and headed to the front garden, where the cherry tree was located. When I stood in front of the sick tree, I looked at it and pondered the situation for a long while.
The tree was about ten feet tall. The main leader and all of one side were dead, but there was a side limb and a sucker coming up from the ground that were completely healthy. Interesting. Something was happening within the trunk. It seemed that the healthy tissue was walling itself off from the diseased portion.
I wanted to give the tree another chance. The surgery was drastic, and I still wasn't optimistic. I sawed off the entire top of the tree, leaving only the lower portion of the trunk that attached to the healthy limb and the sucker. This left a deformed, lopsided tree.
Today I was in the garden, and I looked at the weeping higan cherry tree. It is about thirty feet tall now. When spring comes, its delicate pink blooms will drape over beds of daffodils and other flowers. It still shows the gaping wound where diseased tissue once rotted away. The large cavity is now hardened and surrounded by overgrown callus tissue, like a thick keloid scar. It is a gnarly tree with character. It is a survivor.
I was thinking this afternoon that I have a kinship with this tree. I am a survivor, too. Five years ago, almost exactly, I completed treatments for breast cancer. I saw my surgeon today, and she told me I didn't have to see her again. It was a graduation day, of sorts.
Next week is Thanksgiving, and I will give thanks for many things, including air to breathe and earth to touch, and for flowering trees in my garden.
Blessings to all of you, Deborah