Tree of life

I walk in my garden under the orange trees tiara-ed always -- crowned with birds, with butterflies, with the fragrant blossoms, now heavy with the bright-gold ripening fruit. And I think of ancient groves, so sacred mead-libthat even invading Xerxes ordered his army not to harm the trees and of the mogul, certain his mango tree would bear no fruit till he had ''married'' it to another tree; of oaks and beechnuts reforested, spaced perfectly, ''planted'' by the jays -- and of the Tree of Life different from land to land: the apple of Eden, Isaiah's fig, the Norse ash, Ygdrasil, the Hindu soma, the Persian homa. I walk in my garden beneath these orange trees and think of trees -- trees that give shelter, shade and warmth, build walls and furnishings, bear blossoms, fruits -- trees that are, as they always have been, trees of life.

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