Community Commentary Opinion

Ode to the Encinitas Ficus trees

Sleep in eyes, coffee in belly,

scrambling to early morning class.

Urgency to claim the underside view of two majestic Ficus trees.

Routine unfolding toward peace before the chaos of a day.

To you — Ficus — I gravitate.

You the scholar. Me the student.

Beneath a poised and powerful presence,

force of life inhabits your tree spirit,

beckoning me to study your illustration.

I stretch and breathe.

Life flows in, flows out.

Be strong at the core,

flexible to the winds of life.

Reach for the sky,

ground to the Earth.

Sun creeps then flashes over rooftops.

Dappled grey bark transforms to ashen white.

Glistening leaves now quivering shadows on elephant bark.

Wind shivers through your canopy,

breathing life to creatures dwelling within your embrace

and traversing below your arbored haven.


You and I share something in common.

We are the same age and intruders to this soil.

Spreading non-native roots,

adapting to an adopted landscape.

Both of us seeking the vanishing water.


Biking down 2nd street

beneath open sky and sizzling heat

I race to the protection of your shade.

Ahead of me lies the Miyazaki “Totoro” trees:

Swaying mounds of green drifts shifting like ocean swells,

perched atop tentacled fingers reaching toward the heavens.

Air cools.

My pace slows.

An awareness of birds and bugs,

critters and humans

seeking daytime refuge within your foliage sanctuary.

A moment of reprieve.

You are messy.

You shake your tousled tree hair and shrug colossal limbs.

Crusty, wilted, shedding leaves, crunchy under our feet, scatter across the streets.

Your remnants collect on buckled sidewalks for us to tidy up.

We don’t like messy.

You are a thief.

Beneath the concrete sidewalk facade, hiding in darkened soil,

you coil greedy roots around our pipes of water.

You take without asking. A steady thirst.

We don’t like thieves.

Forgive me Ficus

I am withholding a secret:

I know your demise.  There are plans.

They have exposed you as an imposter and thief,

squeezing our water for your gluttonous thirst,

expanding your roots for a more comfortable stance,

imposing yourself on our endangered space.

We have forgotten.

We breathe your filtered air,

borrow your cloistered shade from punishing sunlight and heat.

You are shelter in the evaporating deluge of seasonal rain.

You grasp and protect our eroding soil.

A refuge to all creatures within this irrigated desert we claim.

Forgive me human

I am withholding a secret:

I know your demise.

You are an imposter and a thief.

Squeezing earth’s water for your ravenous thirst,

expanding roots for your piggish hunger of space.

You have forgotten.

I give you breath




and life.

We are one.

Sarah Garfield is an Encinitas resident.


Gloria Merriam September 17, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Beautiful, Sarah Garfield.

Ronette Youmans September 23, 2016 at 12:54 pm

What a wonderful treat to open the Coast News and find a beautiful poem in homage to the stately ficus trees on 2nd & 3rd Streets. Thank you to Sarah Garfield for taking the time to compose the poem–and thank you, Coast News, for publishing her poetry.

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