There's a huge black locust tree in my back yard.
Sort of a horrible tree, really.
It's got thorns. Big, hard thorns. 1 to 3 inch killers on the trunk and up and down all the branches, with smaller, more rose-like ones on new growth. I have to patrol the yard almost daily for little sticks that might have fallen off so Molly won't cut her toes walking through the grass, or even worse, I don't hit one of those sticks with the lawn mower shooting little shards of pain all over the yard. Just picking up the little sticks I'll usually puncture myself at least once.
A nasty, prickly tree.
I had lived here about a year when a neighbor dog chased my little Coset up into it. She had been an apartment cat before we moved here and had never been in a tree, although it might have been more traumatic for me than it was her. She came away unscathed but I was a bloody mess from head to toe with ripped up clothes by the time I got her down, and contrary to what others who knew (and feared) Coset might think, only 1 or 2 of those bloody wounds were actually cat scratches. I've managed to avoid climbing it since then.
Everywhere you nick the root, a new tree grows. All you can really do is just keep them sawed down to ground level; if you attempt to dig them up, more trees will pop up all around the area you dug.
All spring and summer it spits a sticky sap onto the entire yard and nearby parked cars.
Supposedly the leaves and bark are terribly poisonous, but it's full of nests: squirrels and songbirds find it a lovely place to raise their families; its branches are an annual baby crow day-nursery, and a favorite feasting spot for northern flickers, downy woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
You notice a heavy perfume hanging thick like a fog on the afternoon air. Sweet and intoxicating, you can't quite place the scent. You peek around for blooming lilies, jasmine - anything but this big dumb tree of pain.
But then you look up, and finally notice that the entire tree is heavily draped in clouds of creamy white. You take a deep breath, and are completely mesmirised with what this monster has created.
It doesn't last long. A cut sprig or branch brought into the house won't smell at all by the second day. On the tree, it lasts a week if we're lucky and it doesn't rain.
All in all it's a nice reminder, I suppose, and a lesson I could stand to learn: even the most prickly, unlovable, and seemingly useless among us might be important to someone else, and maybe, just maybe - they have a quality so incredibly sweet that I would forget everything else I knew or thought about them for at least a day.
Note to self: seriously, try to remember this.