Up on our hillside the willows are just beginning to unfurl.


The green buds illuminate in the morning sun, and soon they will burst into soft white wisps.


The willow always blooms just before the pasture grasses are tall enough for the sheep to graze again.  The tree holds tannins that help control parasites in our sheep, so we break some branches for the flock to strengthen them before putting them back on pasture.

P1010599This morning, while Waylon still sleeps, I find the poem I read at my blessing way last summer, a week before his birth:

I am a willow tree,
Strong, yet fluid,
I can bend with the wind,
but my roots are tough,
Opening to birth my child
is flowing with the wind:
from a soft and gentle breeze
to a stormy gale
back to a soft and gentle breeze.
My body is strong, but flexible.
It is my friend, it knows how to open.
I am a friend to my body
eating well, walking and loving myself.
I shall birth safely, freely, openly
among my loved and trusted ones.
I am the willow, flexible
beautiful, resilient,
endowed with the power of surrender
to the wind rustling through my leaves,
my branches.
My roots reach deep into Mother Earth
Anchored in her strength
I bring forth life
in Joy!
~author unknown

It seems so long ago that I was preparing for birth.  My babe is turning into a little boy, though he is not yet a year old.  At the same time, my body still holds signs of pregnancy: a belly stretched so wide that it holds the shape of him, smaller now of course, but rounded nonetheless, a remnant curve, a cavern inside where his body first grew.

I look at him and my heart swells, a love so different than the one I feel for my parents (who I do love deeply).  I wonder, can a child love his parents as much?  Can a willow bud love the roots of the tree as much?  Parents know the miracle of creation from nothing; children know the freedom of breaking away into independence.

Perhaps more or less is not the question–the love is different, but vibrant just the same.