Though Veuve Pleureuse, or Weeping Widow, is a sorrowful name for a tree, a Togolese friend explained that this is because this tree constantly sheds its leaves the way a widow sheds her tears.

I love this tree, though it provides no shade and bears no fruit. It is uniquely West Africa, and whenever I think of this goofy tree, I am morphed back to this strangely familiar place on the globe, Togo.

I wanted to bring one home, which a person can’t do, of course, so I asked a local artisan to carve one for me. This is what he produced. It only took him a few days to make it.

I brought this piece of West Africa home with me and left a piece of my soul in its place.

It was a fair trade.

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