Have you ever built a tree, a whole tree—every part? I don’t mean just planting a seed and waiting for it to grow—that takes too long, but actually built it yourself, right down to the very leaf? You don’t start with nothing; first you must find a tree that has already been built. It can be any tree, but has to be one you like. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Maybe one you have looked at before more than once? Those weird ones that seem to carry your name on the wind. It’s completely up to you, just first find a tree you like the look of.
Once you have found your tree, start to pull it apart. I mean actually pull it apart, pull—rip—tear and throw every piece onto the ground kind of near you so you don’t lose any pieces you might need later. Don’t use a saw or anything, use your hands—you feel more with your hands, that way you will know every part of your tree. It might take a while and you will get blisters, but just keep ripping at it, you’ll get there eventually. Do this until there is nothing left of the tree before. Just bits of wood and leaves scattered around you. Tiny splinters and torn leaves, that’s it.
Now it’s time to build your tree. Grab the splinters you like the look of and put them together. Build it however you want. Just put them together by pushing them against one another, they’ll stick, don’t worry they have been built before. Just keep shoving them together until you get the basic shape of the trunk you want. Tall—lean—short—thick, it doesn’t matter; just keep putting the splinters together. Let it kind of lead its own design until you have formed a trunk.
Then you can start to give your tree a personality. Add knots, bumps, intertwining branches—some big—some small—some that have been broken in the wind or snapped by animals—as many or as few as you wish. Add tiny holes for insects to live in, thorns for protection, crumbled nests from birds long gone, buds for flowers; carve messages with a knife from a love that once was—anything. Oh, also make sure that the branches aren’t even. This is important. They can’t be even—they can’t look perfect. Nothing is perfect—trees included, so if you want this tree to fit in with the rest of the world—it can’t look perfect.
Once that’s done you have to place the leaves back onto the tree, one by one. You know how many leaves a tree has? You must add each leaf one by one. Takes a while, I know, but one by one is the only way if you want to make it your own. If you build your tree during Winter and it’s not one of those weird ones which keep their leaves, just rub the tips of your fingers together and then touch the part on the branches where you want the leaves to grow from. Sounds silly I know, but in Spring leaves wills grow from there, I promise. But remember to rub the tips of your fingers together first otherwise it won’t work. If some leaves are too torn from when you pulled them apart then stick them together with other ones—like you did with the splinters, although torn is ok too; remember you don’t want your tree to look perfect. With each leaf don’t forget to add colour to them individually as you go, mostly the same colour but still kind of different. Some leaves may have been burnt from the sun so they need to be brownish but no leaf exactly the same. It can’t be perfect. Use any paint you like, just get it that leafy colour.
Once this is done you can take a few steps back and look at your tree. This is your last chance to make any changes. You may have some left over bits on the ground, so use them if you like. If not, just leave them there; people will think they have just fallen from your tree in the wind. Stand back and if you are happy sit under the tree’s shade and it’ll be complete. Be careful, because once you sit in the shade of it you won’t be able to make any more changes, so only sit under when you are sure you are really sure.
Now you have your very own tree. You can name it if you like. Call it whatever you want, it’s yours. If you get stuck for names try and choose something old sounding—ancient even. Maybe add the letters ia to the end of the name you choose. It usually helps.
You won’t have to look after your tree very much. They are very low maintenance. Depending where it is, someone else usually waters it, or the rain will. So just enjoy it for what it is—it’s yours—you built it yourself. You might even invite others to come and enjoy your tree too— to sit in its shade, or climb it, or just look at it—whatever you like. But it’s very important to enjoy your tree as much as you can, for it won’t be long until someone sees yours and wants to build one of their own.
Written by: Moluck (Geelong, Australia)
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Yume Magazine #9 / buy now / read online