By the time we finally caught pregnant, we had both been teaching for a decade, and that meant the baby name books were right out. After we discarded the archaic and the merely odd, the names that were left were invariably overfamiliar -- we knew "that kid", and thus the name came with baggage we just could not accept.
So we took a look at ourselves. Liberal folk, to put it politically, with a sense of adventure, and a love of the world for what it was. We wanted something organic, something real, something us.
So we traded in the baby books for field guides and herbal identification charts, and named our children after trees. And we started with Willow, because we liked the sound of it, and because we had lived under one once.
My younger child is too young, really, to understand what being named after a tree really means. But the elder one has been interested in it from the start. She asks me to sing her special song about being a tree almost every night before bed. Spotting "her" tree still brings excitement to a long drive. Being trees is something we share like a secret.
Biology made me a father. But the girl who made me Daddy has my heartwood on a string. Her name is Willow, and she turns six this week. Here's a small set of traditional treesongs, just for her.
- Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule, The Weeping Willow (trad.)
(from Valentine Duets #1)
- Leon Redbone, The Shade of the Old Apple Tree (trad.)
(from Any Time)
- Tony Furtado, Oaktown Ce'eli (trad.)
(from Tony Furtado Band)
- Tim O'Brien, Yew Piney Mountain (trad.)
(from The Crossing)
- Greg Brown, Green Grows the Laurel (trad.)
(from Honey in the Lion's Head)
- Gray Sky Girls, Bury Me Beneath The Willow (trad.)*
(from Gray Sky Girls)
- Natalie Merchant, Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow (trad.)*
(from The House Carpenter's Daughter)
...and previously on Cover Lay Down:
- Mark Erelli covers Bil Morrisey's Birches
- Covers of tradsong Cherry Tree Carol by...
* I know the last pair is kind of morbid, but it's hard to find upbeat Willowsongs; unfortunately, though in our house we celebrate Willows for their flexibility, strength, and beauty, most pop culture references seem to play off their nominative weepiness. If anyone knows of more Willowsongs which are not murder ballads, please pass 'em along in the comments; bonus points for any and all Joan Armatrading covers.