In the first week of March, a Norway maple in the Botanical Garden will be looking something like Bertolt, that tree refuge conjured up by the illustrator and comic book artist Jacques Goldstyn in his story L’arbragan, published in 2015.
An extraordinary friendship
L’arbragan is the story of a solitary little boy (and happy to be that way) who’s friends with a tree. I say friends because that, in my opinion, is the most appropriate word. This tree is no ordinary tree. It’s a majestic oak at least 500 years old, and the little boy is the only one who’s had the courage to climb it. In the branches and foliage of Bertolt – that’s the name the little boy gave it – he feels very secure, as though he were in a cocoon. Plus he gets to rub shoulders with all the living things that thrive there: a raven, squirrels, bees, cicadas, and even a great horned owl.
The little boy impatiently awaits the arrival of spring so he can see Bertolt covered with leaves. Alas – a thousand times alas – while the other trees come back to life, his tree does not wake up. Distraught, he understands that Bertolt has died.
To pay tribute to his departed friend, he’ll decorate the old oak with stacks of mismatched gloves and mittens.
Gloves for a Botanical Garden oak
Ever since I wrote that story I’ve been fascinated by the idea of creating a glove tree myself. So I’ve been picking up lost gloves in the street, making the rounds of lost-and-founds in schools and asking my friends to rummage through the backs of their drawers. At the start of the year I’d rounded up exactly 94 gloves.
But I knew I’d need ten times as many, despite the fact that the tree selected is a lot smaller than the Bertolt of my story. This Norway maple, very much alive, is located quite close to the main building. So if you pass by during the first week of March, take a look… Maybe you’ll find that glove or mitten you lost somewhere!
Text taken from the magazine Quatre-Temps, Vol. 40, No. 1, published by the Friends of the Garden.