The memories of trees are deep things, as far reaching as their roots, and as slow and steady as their winter sap and all of their history is in their rings, a record of times long forgotten by other, lesser, beings. Trees do not come to conclusions quickly, and time, to them, is a different sort of a thing. What passes for humans in years is like the fall of a leave to a tree, so brief as to be meaningless. This cypress tree had stood in its lonely vigil on the coast, its main companion the crash and roar of the waves below, for over two hundred human years and in that time, it had seen much and cared about little of it. The lives of humans, after all, mean little to a tree. It watches, as it has no choice in the matter, but it does not care. Not truly. This however, it had never seen before-- a rare event for so old a tree as the cypress-- and it sharpened its attention accordingly. This, it might be able to care about, if only because the sight of something new brightened the decades immeasurably. This, this perchance, it could tell its saplings, if there was ever room for them here on this bare and rocky outstretch of land. This was a tale worth telling, some day, spread through root and branch and leaf so that all the trees might now it. So that history might continue.
There were humans under the tree. This in of itself was no strange matter. Humans always came to look at it, to admire it and stroke its rough bark if they could get close enough, to comment on its timelessness. This they did as they should; the cypress knew it worthy of their admiration. No, the fact that it was humans was not a surprise. The surprise came because the tree knew one of them, had known the one time and time in the past, when it was but a young tree, thin still a bit and shaking in the wind. How was it that this human could be back, all the same in voice and form, his voice carrying an accent that had come and gone for this coast years and years ago? It was a problem worth pondering for many a year, and the tree thanked the human for that, in its own silent and stoic way.
"I know this tree," the voice was saying, "I remember it."
The woman the man was with seemed more interested in looking into the man's eyes than admiring the tree, but her voice made a "hmmmm" sound and the man continued.
"It was smaller then. I rode my horse out here when I first came, to see the ocean, and here it stood. And here it still stands." There was awe in the man's voice, an awe as deep as the tree's roots, and the joy one would have as they came home to someplace long thought gone. The cypress, ancient statesman that it was, approved of the awe. Humans, with their leave-fall brief lives, should stand in awe of trees. Even this man, with his tree-long life, should be in awe. The tree, after all, had been a child when this man had first been a man.
"When we marry," the man said with confidence, "it will be under this tree. This tree that has stood here for both of our lives. It will be here we marry. It's a worthy symbol of our love. My father would approve."
"Hmmmm," said the woman again. "I've had all these dreams of marrying you, but we were always in the church, at midnight, and you were dead. My father was there, and CeeCee and Doc. When I woke up, I wanted to be happy, but I was too sad." Her voice sounded unfocused, as though she had other things on her mind. Then it sharpened, suddenly, "Jesse, did you just ask me to marry you?"
"Querida," replied the man, and the tree sighed with a shake of its leaves to hear such old words spoken again, "that was not the asking part." And with that, he extricated himself from her arms and fell to one knee, fumbling in a pocket for something that glinted in the sun when he opened its case.
"Susannah," he asked in a voice as deep and steady as the crash of waves so far below the tree's roots, "will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
There was laughter then, and crying from the woman, and the tree thought it heard, throughout all her clamor, the word yes, and then there were no words at all and the tree rustled in approval. It would like them to marry here, this tree-old man and his distracted woman. It would like to hear that ages old accent recite even older vows. They could stand beneath its leaves and take shelter from the sun and storm under it. Yes, it would like that as an end to this story.