Seventeen years ago, my husband’s mother died. She had not been in the best of health, but still her death was unexpected when it occurred. It happened fast. She had put a bunch of cut branches from a twisted willow tree in her garden into a vase of water to use in a floral arrangement not long before she went into the hospital. The cuttings were still in the vase with almost no water left around the new roots when my husband John noticed them a few weeks after her funeral while stopping by to check on his dad. He picked up a handful on his way out and took them home to plant around his house. Over the last seventeen years, he’s moved five different times and always taken a few cuttings grown from the original twisted willow while leaving the the larger plants behind in the ground for the new homeowners.
I loved the twisted willow that John planted in the garden here, at first because it was so pretty, and even more after he told me the story of how bits of it had moved with him over the years. My grandmother was always picking up cuttings or passing them on and the story he told reminded me of her and how she would pinch off a piece of something I’d admired and send me off with directions on how to make it grow.
Last summer I met Sarah online when she left a comment on this blog post. Later on when she and her sister Suzanne came to Cornwall on holiday, we had a chance to meet in person. Earlier this week Sarah sent me the picture below after reading my blog post here. It is a piece of twisted willow that I gave her when they were here last summer.
She planted it in a pot and now it has new roots and another story to go with it should she pass a cutting on to someone else. Sarah can tell them about her American friend that she met online because of cows and caution and how she brought home a bigger memory than just a walk through the buttercup field with her sister Suzanne and their new friend Elizabeth who kept them late that day because she had one last story to share about John, and his mother, and the twisted willow.
Suzanne, Sarah, & Elizabeth 2009