"But, people will think you are weird if you are assembling a bunch of branches in a circle and then walking away", she said.
My response? "If so, then I am weird and it's better they know up front than later." The friendship lasted about as long as this conversation.
I haven't always been true to myself and staunchly been me. But being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's and living with incurable conditions yourself makes you realize that you are all you have. You'll show up as you eventually, so it's easier to just be you from the start. That way, there's no worry about not attracting the wrong people.
The trees around my building are all very old growth trees. They matured at a time before the city took over when they were growing in a forest happily away from the influence of society. Then, the city expanded and those who didn't get chopped down immediately were left by builders who didn't want to take down several trees 15 to 20 feet wide.
As everything else but them came down, they moved from the trees that were usual (albeit on the small side) and rather bland for being so common 30 to 40 years ago to OMG It's huge! Let's put it on the historical register because it's the only one left.
Urbanization is a horrible death fate for most trees. They end up with shorter life spans dying slowly before your eyes (or ears as they tend to attract numerous woodpeckers as they die.) The trees around my building were no exception. But as the chain saws came for them one by one, I felt the need to honor the trees before they went.
And so, I gathered materials from the tree and built a mandala.
It's my way of saying to the tree "Hey. I know you are dying. You are losing the beauty of your youth. Perhaps your hair, good looks, thin body, and youthful energy and health as well. But what you discard and lose is beautiful and can still be made into beauty just as you are still beautiful.
The tough part is seeing something you worked so hard at just get blown away from the wind. But learning to live with change and impermanence is a key lesson in mandala creating. The picture, like any art, is a permanent record of a fleeting moment in time and the beauty we overlook.