I love the way “bottle tree” sounds as it bounces around in my head and the way it trills on my tongue. I first heard of a bottle tree many years ago in Eudora Welty’s short story “Livvie”. She told of the trimmed branches of crepe myrtle trees capped in blue and green bottles.
People made the bottle trees to capture spirits at night and dissipate them in the light of day.
Now spirits and I have always had, in my opinion, a good rapport. They show up now and again simply to remind me they’re around or reassure me when needed. They have become such a common and comforting presence that I walked straight through one the other night while I was hurrying to set the alarm clock so I’d be up in time for an early appointment. Afterward, recognizing my rudeness, I turned to apologize but he had gone. C’est la vie, perhaps next time. I can only recall meeting one spirit that I suspected of untoward purposes and, fortunately, he seemed to shoo away quite easily.
It’s not spirits that worry me. It’s other people, or more specifically what brews, spews, or otherwise oozes out of them when people behave or have been behaved towards badly. I thought that it might be time to repurpose the bottle tree or perhaps, in deference to those for whom it still serves in its original design, simply expand its purpose. Make it a tool to trap and dispel all the negative feelings, words, and energy that hang around trapped inside our homes and hover menacingly in our workplaces and the homes and workplaces of those who influence our lives. We could place them strategically to siphon off all the noxious fall out from the day. We’d come back each morning the air cleared and start again anew and untainted, a kind of spiritual do over. Recycle your bottles, recycle your world.