Tree of the universe

WHERE the road branches off to go up-island there is a tree that I call Ygdrasil - Tree of the Universe. It must have been very small when Norsemen came to Vinland, but I have always associated that giant oak with Norse legend.

Ygdrasil stretches its branches out into the meadow, into my world. The lower branches even touch the ground, as though to help the roots soak up nourishment from the earth.

When snow comes, the broad branches hold it, and each twig, for a time, is outlined in white.

In spring the old oak stands bare and waiting. Gradually the tips of the branches turn pink, then little gray-green leaves appear. Blackbirds come from the South and the whole tree sings.

There's always a birds' nest somewhere among the green leaves of summer. The shade spreads, dark and cool, over the whole meadow, around and around from west to east each sunny summer day.

When maple trees are red and yellow Ygdrasil stands with dignity in brown. The crisp leaves rustle in the wind. When other trees bear apples or pears, Ygdrasil drops acorns to the ground, and squirrels come. They scamper up the branches, climbing clear to the top, chattering in squirrel language. Blackbirds come back, resting in the oak tree for the long flight south.

A flurry of snow and the dry leaves hiss. Winter again, and again, and many springs. The old tree stands - Ygdrasil, Tree of the Universe.

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