Whip branches, slender golden leaves which love to shimmy near a wet shallow hollow pond like Black Hole Pond. The Salix babylonica was not from Babylon, but the East that is – west China. That is, the Chinese recorded use of the willow as medicine even before the Sumerians. Chewee Lou (chuíliǔ) is the Chinese word depicting a weeping willow, the tree, not a literal translation but sort of and whether in Celtic or Chinese, the language nexus is ‘near water’.
Willows have 400 plus varieties and are all over the world, but the weeping willow by Black Hole Pond stood uniquely alone. Aspirin was derived from an ancient herbal remedy of willow bark’s salicylic acid. Then a synthetic compound named acetylsalicylic acid was found by the Bayer company to be more suitable for mass retail sale. Make tea with the dried spring leaves or twigs of any willow, or slow cook bark or soak the inner bark in brandy – to be ‘au natural’.
When I last saw Ellie, she said she has used willow water to help cherry tree starts – heard it works for tomatoes too so plans to try that for next spring. She has a little arthritis in her back and hands but she prefers regular aspirin because of the surety of dosage as well as the ease. Ellie said she gets her willow bark from back of the nursery on Old Grand Harbor. She said Dorethea used shoots for tea from the weeping willow near Black Hole Pond or in the yard ‘next ta’.
While I was nearby, I then went by Second Cousin Removed Dorethea’s house where she once lived just to see if it still looked like anything I remembered. A small park is where the house once was, Dorethea’s homage to Grand Uncle Willie, according to a sign – part of a land swap allowing a new housing development up along the creek. Weeping willows live 50 years and there was no sign of it having ever been there. Black Hole Pond was filled in and is ‘no mo’.