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.


Author: dixiewriter

Due to my father's job as an explorer/cartographer, my family moved 48 times before I turned 13. We lived where Dad worked: on mountain tops (in park ranger cabins), in deserts, swamps, along coastlines from Maine to Key West & other wild places. My father mapped parts of Antarctica, living there for 8 months in 1961-62. A mountain peak & a glacier are named after him (William C. Elder, USGS) As an adult, I helped Lars Eric Lindblad (then president of World Wildlife) find out about the migration path of Silverback gorillas (from Tanzania into Kenya). On my information, he chose to move Lindblad Travel's photographic safari camps to accommodate these wonderful creatures. I got a Jimmy Carter grant to teach after I graduated from Madison College. Grantees had to sign up to teach for at least a year in a severely impoverished school anywhere in America. I taught for 3 & 1/2 years in SW Virginia near Bluegrass Central (Galax, VA). I taught 7th-9th grade English, Drama, Journalism. I was the forensics coach. Moved to Connecticut & worked for Lars Lindblad, typing up the manuscript for his autobiography, working with Liz & John Fuller on this book. (They co-wrote "Ghost of Flight 415" & other books about unusual phenomenon. Moved to Colorado in 1982. Worked as "gal friday" for 12 detectives at the Boulder Police Dept. Set up files for DA to use in court amongst other things. Then at a law firm. Next, CU/Boulder for 10 years. At CU, workers could take a free course each semester. So I did 5 Master's levels courses in special ed' & many in creative writing/history/religion & other subjects at the Master's level. I taught "Drama for the Disabled" in Boulder, CO after the teacher had to quit due to health issues. It was wonderful! My last 7 years working, I helped adults/teens/children with various brain differences such as autism. I was diagnosed at age 45 with 3 types of seizures, manic depression (atypical, rarely depressions, mostly manias), OCD & PTSD. At age 67 (!!) this diagnosis was changed. The manias are most likely due to temporal lobe "disturbance." The other symptoms are due to "high functioning" autism or Asperger's. Shock!! I do Tai Chi 3x/day which helps me to calm down. My husband & I work out at a gym 3-5 times/week for balance mostly but also weight training, running etc. We climb the beautiful Rocky Mountain High places (like Long's Peak & Maroon Bells) in summertime/autumn. We love archaeology, so when we travel, it's in order to discover ancient sites. My husband is an actor with a "day job." He has performed in shows with Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof, the road show), Dick van Dyke (Diagnosis Murder), Firesign Theatre/John Goodman/Annette Bening et al. (Wizard of Oz/radio show) & many other wonderful people since age 14. We have traveled to: Iceland, Scotland (twice), Germany (3 times to visit friends), Ireland & fascinating places in America. We usually spend a month when we travel. So we go about every 5-6 years. Otherwise, we stay at home in a town in Colorado, attending Poetry sessions, working in local theater, enjoying our shelter rescue cats, writing, painting & dancing.

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