This is no ordinary willow tree.
We’ve ridden past this tree every single day without incident. But I know now that was because it’s fruit take a loooong time to ripen. A year maybe.
The reason we have the tilty, blurry photo of the sinister tree: I was taking the picture while Hudson was in the first phase of a cow horse one-foot spin and bolt. Or, if we prefer in dressage lingo, a pirouette at the hand-gallop.
Something WAS wrong. The tree looked like one half was attacking the other half. There were a lot of branches bending, bobbing, whipping up, wildly thrashing…this was one heck of a freaked out tree.
I got off Hudson and we walked cautiously back. The tree stopped moving.
Uh, trees do not stop thrashing around when they hear hooves. I suddenly realized no breeze had made it thrash around in the first place. The air was utterly still.
Cue spooky music. Forget Hudson. I was ready to jump out of my skin.
I get back on, we tiptoe past the tree, which remains perfectly still. Hudson’s ears swivel back questioningly: What the heck was that all about?
I pat him on the shoulder: Don’t know. You sure were good though, thanks.
I can feel his mental shrug, and we go to work in the arena. Once he’s done for the day, and settled back into his paddock with The Worlds Largest Happy Meal, I walk back to the access road. I want to see if I was part of a mass hallucination, or the tree is perfectly ordinary.
It’s not. The willow is wildly attacking itself. Is there a gap in the time/space continuum here? Did we fall through a worm hole? Other than tree noises, there are no sounds. No children are playing in the greenery.
Suddenly, a large roundish white thing falls out of the tree with a loud thud. Bizarre fruit? Branches tremble above where it landed. The tall grass rustles and I hear the unmistakable sound of tiny hooves scrambling as a small white goat launches itself back into the branches. A second later, a gray round thing falls out, scrambles, and leaps back into the tree to continue play fighting.
An hour later, I see a herd of little goats quietly grazing in the tall grass near the tree. The willow was able to completely camouflage 15 tumbling, rambunctious goats.
A Goat Tree. I love my life.
I told Hudson goats grow on trees. And that our Goat Tree had fruit just about ripe enough to start falling to the ground, and goats being goats, they thrash.
He gave me a dubious look.
“Could be worse?”, I say. “They could have planted llamas.”