Ginkgo, not Gingko.

It’s another snow day today, not sure why. The snow stopped early and it’s just another beautiful day. The grade nine student in my house has a ton of homework while the grade eleven student does not which may or may not irritate the grade nine student at times. We are eating leftover cake I made yesterday and looking forward to a long weekend. The older student and I have already done Wordle, as we do every morning. I have argued with children that cake is fine at 9:30 am but candy, perhaps, is not.

I bought myself a ginkgo leaf necklace this week from a local artist on etsy and I love it. Ginkgo trees (or gingko as I just realized I’ve been spelling it as) are old, the oldest tree in existence, dating back as far as the dinosaurs. After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, six ginkgo trees survived close to the blast site. They turn a gorgeous bright yellow in the fall and drop fruit that smell like vomit. They are far to old to care what people think of them. The are strong and resilient and just before March 2020, a group of them were planted in the small yard outside my Nana’s window at her retirement home. She watched them all throughout the lock down, telling me how they were almost every day. I have a lot of her jewellery now but I haven’t felt right wearing any just yet. This necklace is perfect, not only is it about her, but by getting something new I feel it’s a step for me, not necessarily forward – I’ve learned grief isn’t linear – but it’s motion for sure.

Ginkgo biloba is sometimes described as a living fossil because it is the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees older that the dinosaurs. It is the only member of its genus, which is the only genus in its family, which is the only family in its order, which is the only order in its subclass. That’s pretty lonely, which is why I think they should be forgiven the fact that its seeds smell like vomit.

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane



I’ve been using the Forest app for years to give myself time off my phone to get shit done. Yesterday I was playing with it and noticed a link to another app and followed it and it led me to a tree personality test. They’re fun, meaningless and I did it while sitting on my rug and petting my dog. It took five minutes. The above image was the result and it nearly took my breath away.

I’ve written here about my Nana’s love of the sparrows at the feeder she had suctioned to her window. But just a few feet past that window, were about six baby ginkgo trees that the retirement home planted before Covid. She told me about them when I was reading Rules for Visiting, a novel I love by Jessica Francis Kane. The novel is about a young women who works as a botanist for a university while grieving the death of her mother. Chapters have simple sketches of trees and one is of the ginkgo and I remember having just read that chapter when Nana told me about her new baby trees.

She loved those trees. They were planted in the fall of 2019 I’m guessing and she was so excited to wait until the next spring and see their growth. Only one didn’t make it through the winter and had to be replaced. She talked about those trees so often over the next two years. She missed them when she went to live with family in Orillia in 2020 for a few months. I wish I had a picture of them.

I bought Kane’s book for Nana and I think she read about half of it, never got to the Ginkgo chapter which is near the end because, like so many of us, she went through times when it was just too hard to concentrate. She did love what she read and like so many other books, it gave us so much to talk about. So yesterday, when the Ginkgo tree came up as my personality tree…what can I say? That it’s one of those beautiful, unexpected gifts and connections.