The Camellia and the Poplar

February 18, 2022
Oakland, CA
Warm and sunny

The poplar tree grew tall on the street in front of my Oakland, California apartment. The two-story building was constructed in 1923 and the poplar must have been only a small shoot at the time. Only a year ago, it’s thick branches arched over the roof, protecting the apartments, and their occupants, from the burning afternoon sun in the summer and rain in the winter.

Also benefitting from the shade of the poplar, in the small, front garden of the apartment building, a huge camellia bush is growing, which could almost be called a camellia tree, its branches reaching to the roof. Every January it explodes with red blossoms. The poplar and the camellia were growing happily together as friends for many years.

A year ago a sudden overgrowth of mushrooms appeared at the roots of the poplar, an ominous forecast for the tree. In the spring, it did not put out a single leaf, in the summer it was still bare, in the fall, the City came and cut it down, leaving only a three-foot stump.

Now the camellia’s protector is gone. She has no one to shield her from the summer sun. The leaves on one side are already turning brown. Will she survive the loss of her life-long friend and guardian? Another patch of mushrooms appeared in her garden space. They could be an omen similar to their presence at the foot of the tree before it died.

But the mushrooms were not near her roots, and the gardener soon removed them. And hundreds of tiny buds have appeared on her branches. They have not opened yet, but it appears she is ready to display her yearly exuberance of flowers.

Perhaps she has discovered, like countless women who have lost a husband, a son, or another dear one, that she has within herself the protection and the love she needs to grow and flourish on her own, a strength she didn’t know she had until she was forced to go to her own roots to find it.

In honor of all those women who have lost and have used their grief to water their roots of glory,

Keep looking UP,
Dorothy Deviani

What I have been reading: “Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus That Plagues Our World” by Paul Levy. This is not an easy read, but a wonderful explanation of the Covid-like mental virus that has infected the whole world. Introduction by Larry Dossey, M.D.

6 thoughts on “The Camellia and the Poplar”

  1. Dorothy,
    I can’t believe our apartment building is almost 100 years old! I had no idea.
    This is a beautiful story of strength and renewal. I like how you convey grief and loss as opportunities to look inward and find our own greatness.
    Thank you for writing.
    Virtual hug,

  2. Thank you, Dorothy, for this lovely lesson of resilience when adversity comes unexpectedly. Your beautiful observation helps me to understand the deeper meaning and nature of crisis. It is so positive and helps me adapt to a new situation; an opportunity to become stronger and better at being who I really am.

  3. Annie Elizabeth Porter

    Thank you for your beautiful story, Dorothy. Several of my camellias are now in full bloom filling my heart with joy. May we all grow strong through love and loss and willingness to love again!
    Annie Elizabeth

  4. Dorothy, I lost my husband John 143 days ago. My struggle has been ,as I grieve, to find my strength and renewed life from our 38 years of supporting and protecting love. I rejoice in the reblooming camellia and promise to those who have loss.
    I am grateful for your gift. m

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