Willow Trees

 

Three homeless men I’d met earlier that Spring stood at the foot of the willow tree. One looked up and shouted: Lady, you ain’t safe up there!”

It was three o’clock on a hot Spring night. I was sitting on a large, sloping branch of a willow tree. The branch hung out over Boulder Creek. I’d climbed up there because the night sky told me I was going to receive an important message from the moon but it would only tune in to my mind like a radio signal if I were up in the loving arms of that particular tree. I heard the willow’s whisperings from my apartment miles away, so I got out of bed and walked to the creek in a fever to hear the message.

Wearing high heels and a skin tight, neon red dress with slits up the sides, I was an unlikely tree climber. My mother had sewn that dress for me, saying “You have such a cute figure. You need to show it off more.” I usually preferred clothing that hid my shape but this was high mania time, so I strode around town like a stripper.

I was forty-five, nearly 5’10” & 125 pounds. My hair was long, wavy and dyed a deep golden-red. Dark brown eyes. My husband often told me that all conversation stopped when I walked into a room. I thought that he meant I was so crazy, people quit talking to stare at me. I never felt as attractive as others said I was, even in my twenties.

When you look OK & dress well, people are less likely to pin you down as “crazy” but at this point, even guys living on the edge worried about me.

After I climbed down from the tree, I sat on dewy grass with the homeless men. One played guitar & sang beautifully. He told me, “I used to be a teacher but I went insane. Spent time in a nuthouse. Now I sing for my supper.”

“Sorry that happened to you.”

I stood up & brushed the back of my dress off.
“Gotta get home, take a shower & go to work.”

“Work! Where do you work?”

“CU. I type stuff for professors. So Long & hope your luck changes!”

The guys waved goodbye. I’m sure they all thought I was lying about having a job. But I’d always worked, since I was ten & my brother was eight. We went door to door in Douglas, Wyoming. “Need your sidewalk shoveled?” we’d ask in winter. “Need your sidewalk swept?” we’d query in warmer weather. People sometimes gave us a quarter just to quit bothering them. But we shoveled a lot of walks & swept so much dirt away, we created small tornadoes.

 

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