Alone on a stretch of shore with nothing to keep it company save various reeds and grasses, a tree stands in winter nakedness against a backdrop of earth, wind, and water, three of the five classical elements.
I stare at it for some time, wondering what shape its life will take when once again it dons the verdant cloth of foliage.
But the closer I look, the more I realize even its nudity betrays its true self, its very nature.
White like chalk and waxy like candles, its essence dangles from each branch, its name writ upon each seed waiting to give rise to another of its kind, to a tree like this one.
Known by many names, such as Florida aspen, chicken tree, and white wax berry tree, none identifies it more easily than this simple moniker: popcorn tree.
No, my ligneous friend, you cannot hide who you are even in winter. No matter what flesh you wear, the truth of your soul remains evident.
[Chinese tallow (a.k.a. Florida aspen, chicken tree, vegetable tallow, white wax berry tree, or popcorn tree; Triadica sebifera, sometimes referred to as Sapium sebiferum)]