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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Conversation with Pino and the perfect tree

In honor of the Christmas season, I have a story to share with you, a conversation of sorts, between me, Pino, and a little tree.

"It's a perfect day for tree searching, Pino," I said as I grabbed his halter.

"Yes, I agree," his ears said. Although I don't rank days by perfection, they are all worthy of something, the little donkey thought to himself.

We set off to the side Wood, not far from his barn. December had been quite warm, but crisp, leaving the ground firm to walk on without mush, and no ice to slip on or snow to stomp through.

I found a perfect tree, tall, full at the base and formed well, with no real gaping holes at its side.

"It's too tall," I heard Martyn say from behind. He had come to follow us, with the saw.

We forged on a bit further, keeping close to the paddock and away from the thickest part of the marsh. It was the first time I had rigged up a makeshift hay twine harness on Pino, nothing fancy, so I didn't want to go very far this first time out.

Suddenly, Pino stopped. I waited. When Pino stops it can be for many reasons, but I could tell by his ears pricking forward, his stopping had meaning to our mission at hand.

"Do you see one?" I asked hm. His ears pricked backwards to me, then front and back to alert me to his sighting.

"That one, Pino?" I said, and I walked to a little misshapen, crooked tree. It was not full of bows but sparse. It was a tree that in time, like many in The Wood, would be smothered out by the larger Oak and Maple canopy above it, if its roots didn't rot before that from the years of marsh living.

"It's the right height," Martyn said. It's not very full, should we look a bit longer?"

"We started walking again, but only a few steps, and Pino stopped again. I turned again to look at the little tree, and with my new perspective could see that the other side had a big empty area where no branches were, and the crooked trunk was even more noticeable from that side. From a Christmas tree standard, she really had no good side.

Pino took a few steps to line himself up with me by my side, something he knows to do when he has a halter on. He was quiet, and we both stood looking at the little tree.

"We want this one," I told Martyn.

"Okay," he said, and as he knelt down to saw its base he said, "Positive?"

"Yes," I said.

We tied the makeshift hay twine get up to the tree and to Pino and we started back to the house. It took a bit of time. Donkey hauling Christmas trees in not something one does in a rush. I thanked Pino for his work and leaned the tree up against the porch, while I tied him some feet away so I could run into the house for something. I returned to find Pino staring into the little Misfit tree, his ears pricked towards it, he was clearly deep in conversation with her.

"You are a beautiful little tree," he said.

"I'm surprised you picked me. I'm crooked and ill kept," the tree said.

"You are as a perfect as an old Redwood," Pino said. "You had a purpose to hold the birds, and now you will hold the Christmas lights. We will see them from the barn on clear nights. Thank you."

I led Pino back to his mates, returned to find Martyn had the tree up in the dining room, and I began to hang the first lights. I placed white doves at her top and hung glistening fruit all around them. She is the most Charlie Brown tree I've ever had, but she is perhaps the favorite too. With each year that passes, I recognize the Misfitedness within me, and somehow this sweet little crooked tree symbolized for me that I am just fine, I'm doing okay. I'm worthy of being noticed for the purpose that I am meant to live out, in my own misfit way.

It was dark. I plugged in the lights.

I heard the donkeys bray.