There’s a tree I walk past often, and on my way home from work one day I decided to take a picture of it. Turning to face the tree, I took my phone out of my coat pocket.
As I did, a young man stopped and asked if I was going to photograph the tree. When I said yes, he asked what it was I saw. I looked at him closely before speaking. His question, his wool jacket, the way he stood told me what I wanted to know.
I asked, Are you a photographer?
If he’d asked, I would have told him I’m a painter.
The setting winter’s sun outlined the silhouette of the tree. I showed him how its bifurcated trunk created the illusion of an embrace.
At first he couldn’t see it: Show me the nose.
Pointing with my finger, I outlined nose, brow and lips for him.
He looked intently, the way artists and poets do. After a pause, he said, I have a friend. She talks to trees.
I told him once I heard a grove of trees singing. Two weeks later, they were gone, having been cleared for a housing development.
He told me he will never not see the embrace of this tree.
He went on his way. I took the picture of the tree, and from it, several days later, made this painting with its story of a random encounter.