popolus tremuloides

We all know that elementary school writing assignment, the one where you have to write about “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” Yeah that one. I hated it. Still do. I always get very impatient, like it doesn’t really fit. Maybe I’ve just never found the right animal, or I just don’t know myself well enough or some such thing.

But me as a tree — I like that better. Specifically, a quaking aspen. (Surprise, surprise.) Someday I’ll plant them around my house.

I think I’ve heard that aspens grow as a single organism, groves of them connected by the same root system, that they can be considered the largest single living organism in the world. (Yes, I think that was from the movie Phenomenon. Don’t interrupt.) I should look it up.

But regardless, I’m particularly fond of quaking aspens. I first saw them when I would go to girls camp up in the White Mountains (along with the butterscotch-smelling pine trees). They have small, heart shaped leaves that flutter in the breeze, like fish or birds turning in a school, a flock; I heard it’s because the stems of the leaves are oddly shaped (flat instead of round), and so it trembles in the wind. They’re beautiful, and the movement of the leaves makes me think of amazement, wonder, of the feeling I get in my chest at beauty or joy. Fluttering like a bird — or those leaves.

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