baucis and philemon
there is a great story, a greek myth, about an old couple who are visited by the gods zeus and hermes, after the two gods have been rejected as unworthy strangers by the rest of the village. the elderly couple invites them in, serves them the best food they can muster, apologizes profusely for the humbleness of their home and offerings, and makes plans to slaughter their only goose as an act of hospitality and virtuous self-denial. the gods finally reveal themselves, refuse to allow the goose to be slaughtered, and warn the couple to flee the city, which the gods plan to destroy, along with all those who have turned them away. the couple asks only one favor: that when the time comes for one of them to die, the other will be taken too, so that neither of them ever has to live without the other. when their time comes, the gods turn the couple into an oak and a linden, whose branches intertwine forever. i love this story because it takes a moment to emphasize the almost holy importance of so humble an instinct as hospitality. and i love it because i would love to pick my time to die so that it corresponded with the death of my mate. i love it also because i would love to choose, with my husband, our eternal forms. and, finally, i would give anything to spend eternity as one of two stout intertwining trees. sigh. can you think of a better fate?
linden (tilia) leaf with spring bract and young fruit