The Year of the Tree
As a year winds down and a new one takes off, I find it hard to look back and see what actually happened and how I changed. This year's take and leave, though, are a bit more dramatic. I am ending work I have done for thirty years and setting out for new horizons. So what keeps me grounded through these continuous transitions?
I learned early that the one constant in my life is me. Who I am and what I believe do not change. So when the pain and the joy hit me harder than usual, my inner core is not swayed, but stands like a tree through the seasons. Maybe that's why, a couple of years ago, w started taking a weekly picture of a tree, watching it, looking at it, and seeing how it stands through the days and years of changes all around it.
The tree in question is a gum tree, according to Leroy. It sits, alone, right across from his property. By its size, I would say it could be maybe 150 years old. I should ask Aaron who knows about trees. We first noticed it on a very cold wintry day when it showed itself through a spectacular sunset.
For many years now, we drive through the deep snow and the pouring rain, through the hot sun and the freezing sleet, in pretty much all kinds of weather, out the seven miles to get the firewood for our woodfired oven and our woodstove. Leroy owns a bustling wood shop, where my partner has often gotten wood for various work and house projects. I can safely say that many rooms and work surfaces in our house are made from wood purchased there. And at the bakery, some of our most essential equipment is made from wood that Jim got there. So every week, Jim (I sometimes accompany him) heads for the pickup. And until that one day, we had never really noticed the tree.
For one year, we decided to take a picture of the tree every time we made a wood pickup. What we discovered is that sometimes, the tree stands on its own. And sometimes it stands in the midst of what is going on around it, subdued. But it never moves off its foundation. It is there no matter what. Its outward appearance changes but its essential appearance does not. It has become a good reminder that there is an essential part of me that does not change, that my inner foundation does not move despite the political, religious, ideological storms, that sometimes I am only part of the landscape, and other times I stand apart. But, mainly, the tree reflects back to me an awareness that each day has its beauty, it's drama, it's routine and like it, I see it happen and look with open eyes.
We will be driving out together in the new year because I now can fit it into my schedule. Leroy, I hope to see you out there one more time! And we will take another photo of the tree.
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