Each morning I share a cup of coffee in silence with an ancient oak tree which I can see from my great front window. After we moved into this home I didn’t have a designated place to sit with my cup of coffee so I would linger in my bed much longer than is healthy for I am slow to start before 8am. But once I found my cozy corner of the couch to sit on and establish that the day had indeed begun, I now wipe the sleep from my eyes in my proper place.
Meeting my friend the tree took a bit longer to discover. A couch is an obvious observation because you put a couch where it is. A tree is just part of the background scene until it notices you and chooses to make contact. I can’t remember the first morning that my friend saluted me, a large mass of bare tangled branches without even one leaf. I never noticed him before the autumn leaf drop, which happens in late November in Pleasant Hill, California. In Ohio we would be shoveling ourselves out of a blizzard, in California we rake up leaf-jumping piles.
But from this morning in late January, I know that my coffee date the enormous oak and I have been growing quite fond of each other. As the pillowcase creases fade from my cheeks, the tree sways just slightly on top of its grassy hill. It matters not that my neighbor’s roof divides us like a too-large cafe table. There is no bustling Starbucks ambiance to interrupt our conversation. “Good morning, tree. How was your evening?”
“Oh, much the same. Not much changes for me here. It is nice to see the sun rising over Mount Diablo again.”
“I’m sure it is! What a lovely vantage point you must have from your clearing on the hill.”
“Oh, yes. I can see things the way they are from up here. Today will be a gift. I can see it.”
“You’re right, today is a gift. Well, I have to go unload the dishwasher. See you tomorrow.”
It’s comforting to have a friend who has been here much longer than our family. Perhaps even longer than this house. Especially to have a friend with such a calm demeanor, slowly growing into whatever tangled shape he deems most lovely with no consideration for current trends or norms. This friend isn’t here to achieve something, isn’t here to prove something, isn’t even here to notice if anyone else is achieving or proving. This friend has merely come to be, and being is as much a means as it is an end for this wise coffee date of mine. And although I still have achievements hoped for on this day, and I still suffer from feeling I have something to prove, tomorrow morning my friend the oak is just expecting me to to be here on my couch with my cup of coffee, ready to be for another day.