The Magnolia Tree


On my morning walk a few days ago, I chanced upon a small tortoise crossing the road. He (she?) was a very small tortoise and to him the road must have seemed like a concreteSahara, but he was furiously inching forward. Even when I picked him up to move him to the grass on the other side, those stubby feet kept moving. For a tortoise, he was hurrying for all he was worth.

Tortoise trundles on,

Claws digging into concrete,

Eyes on goal ahead.

Hurry seems to be the watchword of our times. People everywhere are in a hurry to get somewhere or to do something, and I am no exception. There always is a multiplicity of things to be done, so each must be done quickly in order to move on to the next. Even when on holiday, schedules become crowded with things to see and waiting experience so that while I am enjoying something I am very often thinking of what comes afterward.

Suppose there is an idle moment? Ah, but isn’t there that awful old saw that idle hands are the devil’s playground? I don’t believe this, of course, but the Puritan work ethic is insidious and sneaks into that lovely, peaceful, do-nothing afternoon. Hey, whispers the niggling voice of my conscience, what about the article you were supposed to write? And what about weeding the garden before it gets too hot? And who is going to clean out the closet if you sit around and twiddle your thumbs?

It wasn’t always so. When I was young, I would climb a certain magnolia tree in my parents’ garden and sit in its fork to daydream. Children still have the capacity to enjoy each moment for its own sake. Our grand daughters can sit and with their dolls and enter a world so wonderful that it holds them in thrall or write a story or become absorbed in an art project.  Our grandson, though he is now in his teens, can still disappear into a book and stay submerged for hours.

But what about adults? On my walks I often see men and women striding along while all the time talking on their cell phones. In restaurants, all four diners at the same table may be talking on cell phones (which is another topic altogether,) or texting someone. Moments that might be spent absorbing nature or interacting with friends are lost. As for me, I have to wonder how often I really pay full attention to the here and now or truly listen to a friend’s conversation without hurrying to think of my own response?

Well, you may well object, what world do you live in, lady? Sometimes we need to hurry! You are right. Children need to be picked up, a business meeting must be attended, schedules must be kept or chaos will result. There are plenty of times when, like our friend the tortoise, we need to glue our eyes to the road ahead and keep our feet moving—after all, slow and steady did win the race. Still, there are other times, aren’t there?  Times when we can stop what we are doing, draw breath, and fill our eyes and hearts with the beauty of a dawning sky, or the majesty of waves crashing onto a beach, or savor every precious moment of lunching with a friend? Surely there are times and places where we can rest and refresh the spirit and simply be?

I think I need to find a magnolia tree again.

Watching the sunset

Paint the sky scarlet and gold,

Locking world away.


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

8 responses »

  1. Maureen,
    Are you sure you’re not in that magnolia tree? Your last poem took my breath away! How lovely that the sunset is personified or that’s my take on it. You have a way of escaping to the magnolia tree without getting scratches or bruises. Your mind takes you there. The sign of a true writer!

    Linda A.

  2. This was beautiful. And to think that I took the time to read it because I was waiting for an email to get sent out! Sigh. We do live in a hurry up world. Too much to do I think. Too many options….there’s another blog in that one too. Thanks for the reminder. carol

  3. ah maureen,
    that was my day today. there seemed to be so many things i had to get done… doctor’s appointment, then get a peach pie made part of all the peaches we bought at the farmer’s market and cleaned and froze over the week end. then on to cleaning up of the kitchen and getting a market list for shopping to be done today. Off again, shopping to get things from JoAnn’s fabrics for pillows i want to cover for one of my daughters and send off the birthday card for daughter betsy in the mail so it will get to her before her birthday. And then grocery shopping for ingredients for a recipe we will be making from the produce from our garden.
    i did take a nap in the afternoon, but then got right up and started a quilting project i had been putting off for years and wanted to start to get it done.
    By nightfall i was so tired i just collapsed on the sofa.
    Later, i started a bath to ease my sore back and muscles. aaah, that was a good idea.
    i was able to slow down and let the warmth and herb scented bath salts and bubble bath and water soak into my bones. rest my mind and soul
    and quietly think of my family and bless them . .
    Later, i put my feet up on the top of the pillows i had stacked near the headboard and rested my 80 year old body a bit before i could drift off to sleep.
    Hurry i did
    make use of the day
    Satisfaction whew !

  4. Maureen, when I was growing up my retreat was a pear tree. The fork where I sat with my book, or my pen and paper, fit so perfectly. How I’d love to find a chair today that held my old bones like that pear branch did. In recent weeks illness has suddenly brought me to a slower pace. Oh, how different the hours move when the rush is gone. I protest the leisure as I try to readjust my daily activities. With your example, maybe I can find some poetry in there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s