Monday, April 29, 2013

Y: The Yew Tree

I am not a rib stolen from someone else's lonely torso.  I am not soil sculpted on a whim.  I am not a flame made flesh.

I am a tree.  I am Yew.  I am a woman and my form was created by Odin himself as he walked with his brothers and saw the beauty of the Yew tree.  He took the most beautiful of the Yew trees and made woman from it.  He did the same for man, but he used the Ash tree instead.



I am a woman.  I come from a tree.

Adam and Eve, if you will, were two trees.  An Ash and a Yew.

And today we're going to learn about the Yew tree.

I am evergreen.  That means I don't go anywhere for the winter, I'm up and at 'em all year 'round.  I am tall and strong.  Look for my proudest branches at the 20 meter mark.  My bark is thin and kindof scaly but in a pretty way that ends up looking rustic and lacy instead of gross and sun-burn-y.


I'm a big-time northerner and am commonly found in places like northern Europe and the northeastern coasts of North America.  I am very tolerant of varying conditions.  Heat, rain, cold, acidity in the soil, drought or pollution; when given adequate time to adjust I can accommodate nearly everything you throw at me.

The only time I start to fail is when I'm exposed to too many heavy metals, get too much foot-traffic (soil compaction) around the soil of my roots, or when I have to endure really really cold temperatures in the neighborhood of -35.  You'll be hard pressed to find someone who thrives in that temperature anyway.

I am beautiful.  I give shade and shelter to the small things of the world.  I am cool and calm.  I endure.

And I can kill.  Nearly every part of me contains a nasty oil that will stop your heart.  When applied with meticulous and gentle care, elements of me can be applied in the treatment of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. However, treated carelessly, I can otherwise effortlessly enter your system and end your days with digestive pain, dilated pupils, coma and respiratory/cardiac failure.  Macbeth knew it.  Now you do.

I am long lived.  Many of my sisters have clocked in at 4,000 years.

I do not transplant easily, but once I'm in a place I like, I'll stick it out for as long as I'm allowed.

My seeds are shy and reluctant to germinate without lengthy and annoying rituals.  Reproduction is best left to the experts and my sisters have had great success with assistance from knowledgeable local birds.   That's not something I'm personally interested in, though, so that's frankly just fine with me.  Interestingly, in the right conditions I can root up just fine by simply drooping my branches low enough to touch a particularly fertile patch of soil nearby.



I am such a special thing, you see, that I have been part of storytelling since storytelling began.

I am commonly planted near churches, and temples, and gravesites.  I am often carried by the deceased as they travel to the next place.  I can be placed as a marker in the landscape, because I'll be there when future generations return.  Heroes and Gods alike have loved me and knelt beside me to consider their places in the universe, to pray, to celebrate, to mourn.

I am a tree.  I am a woman.  I am mysterious and strong and flexible and sturdy and I have thousands of years of secrets within my fibers.

I am Yew.

I am you.  I can think of no finer thing to be.

3 comments:

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Interesting post. I thought I had a Yew growing at my house but now I'm not sure. I'll have to do some research!

Juliet Bond said...

Lovely! Just discovering your blog for the first time as I make my way through the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

Poke The Rock said...

that was a great post! even if you are a tree I still like what i see...did that rhyme?