Cotton Trees 木棉樹

In Hong Kong, there are many cotton trees. Along Boundary Street 界限街, Cotton Tree Drive 紅棉路 (where you may one day get locked), Chatham Road 漆咸道, or, you name it, we can never let these trees pass unnoticed. They just stand there, staring the sky.

In the past, I could hardly notice the beauty of cotton trees. I just thought they were trees. And trees were trees, nothing else.

Now I can truly appreciate their beauty (this may be due to my getting older): When their flowers bloom, there are no fanciful decorations. The flowers just stand out from the others. When they wither, they drop on the ground without wailing over their own death. Then green leaves come out, hanging on their boughs as willow leaves do in autumn. Next year, they stand there again loyally, staring the sky with another type of simplicity. Because of this act, people name the tree Hero Tree 英雄樹.

My change of views on cotton trees is like what a Zen old saying says: First: 見山不是山. But finally: 見山又是山.

Our perception grows, you see. Perhaps, next time, when you come across a cotton tree, try to take a good look at it.

by Thomas Shum