Alexandria, VA – My favorite tree will bloom soon, a redbud.
I learned of redbud trees from an elderly gentleman I met in Paris, Virginia. The backstory is that the first big conference I organized for the association I worked for then had finished. To reward myself for the success, I packed my watercolor paints and a pad into my car and drove west on Rt. 50, not knowing where I was going but thinking I would know when I got there.
I parked along the road near Paris. It was April and the trees were that tender shade of light green they get when they first leaf out. There was a small lake and low hills in the background. A man stopped to talk to me, because, he said, I was painting the very scene that he had built his home to overlook, from the mountain on the other side of the road. He kept the trees on his property topped so the view wouldn’t be hidden.
He told me he’d seen my car, a hot pink, two seat, rag-top Fiat Spider (would you believe I once had a little pink sports car?) and decided he had to meet me. I gave him my address and about a week later a book of poetry he’d written came by mail. It was inscribed “To a kindred lover of a beautiful scene.”
W. Caldwell Webb, or Pop, as he called himself, was 80 then and I thought that was very old. I am 81 now and it doesn’t seem quite so old. Pop was an interesting man, loved by his neighbors for his dowsing skills. Mail addressed only to “Pop on the Rocks, Paris, VA” found its way to him.
Pop and I became friends. I drove to Paris whenever I could, to sit in a wooden rocker in front of the fire when it was cool, snuggling the well-worn teddy bear he’d had since he was a child. We were friends until he died some five or six years later. I later learned that the teddy bear was buried with him.
Redbuds were Pop’s favorite trees because, he said, they bloomed on the mountain before anything else. To honor Pop, when I moved to my current home I mail-ordered three bare root redbuds. One died soon after I planted it. Another died after several years. So far, the third lives on and has offered me many seedlings, two of which are now little trees. I love the exuberance with which the parent tree spreads its limbs. It seems to be saying “I’m here and very happy to be here.”
It is February as I write this but spring will come. The redbud will bloom and, like the redbud, I will be spreading my limbs and exhibiting my mosaics outside of Alexandria. Not in Paris, but in Woodstock, Virginia, some 25 miles from Paris.
I hope that by then you, too, will reward yourself with a drive in the countryside to witness spring. Visit 7 East Gallery, maybe have brunch, and/or visit a winery. The exhibit “Spring in Woodstock” is scheduled to be at 7 East Gallery,123 Main Street, from April 30 through the end of May. A closing reception at the gallery is planned for Sunday, May 31, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Be aware that the exhibit and reception may be postponed due to coronavirus-related concerns, but let us hope that this crisis is just a memory by then. For current arrangements, go to the gallery’s Facebook page.
Mosaic Artist/Photographer Nina Tisara is the founder of Living Legends of Alexandria.