Wishing Tree, Descanso Gardens, 2020
In this time of COVID, so many things we took for granted have changed, been restricted, been removed from our lives as we attempt to slow the viral spread. I don’t need to enumerate them because we’re all too aware of what we’ve given up dealing with this pandemic for nine months.
But today, I thought about the one thing that hasn’t changed. Our seasons. Now, we find ourselves at the tail end of autumn transitioning into winter. COVID has left untouched the cycle of seasons and, with it, the beauty that accompanies each one.
Even in southern California, we see the leaves changing colors, perhaps not as brilliant as the New England, but still — gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow surround us.
On my way to Descanso Gardens this morning, I drove by Birches with their showy yellow leaves and Liquid Ambers with their star-shaped leaves of red and orange. In the gardens, a huge Ginkgo tree near the entrance is turning lemon yellow, the yellow-orange Mulberry tree by the pond is adorned in yellow and orange, and majestic coastal oaks intertwine throughout.
But today, a new tree emerged – a bright pink wishing tree set in the Main Lawn. Designed by artist Kaz Yokou Kitajima from a downed oak tree, thousands of messages adorn its branches.
I read many of the messages that spoke of hope: for COVID to end, for health for their family and friends and their newborn babies, for being able to see grandparents again, for an appreciation for all the earth provides and how to best demonstrate that appreciation, for compassion and a renewed democracy.
The children’s messages touched me with wishes for a bunny for Christmas, to heal the world, to go to school, “that orangutans and elephant don’t’ die”, and for joy for the world.
While I won’t reveal my wish, I want to extend a wish for you to stay still for awhile in nature and appreciate what you still have do in spite of COVID.
As I was getting ready to leave, I walked back to the Gingko tree for a final look.
Ginkgo Tree, Descanso Gardens, 2020
The Ginkgo tree is the oldest surviving species of tree that exists with a botanical age of more than 200 million years. Their resilience and antiquity have made them a symbol of strength, hope and peace.
A light wind came up and beautiful yellow fan-shaped leaves started to fall and flutter all around me. I stopped as their leaves rained down on me in appreciation of the moment. I took one of the leaves home and it reminds me that COVID will end one day and I believe we will all be stronger and more mindful after this pandemic is finally over.