Tag Archives: trees

QUIET

Companion Oaks
January, 2017

The first snow came this past Friday morning— a white, powdery quilt cover —tucking away and hiding the slimy, wet leaves matted down, scattered over the driveway and hills. For the first time in weeks, I perceived order; there was quiet.

I am grateful for the calm of this brief snow. The winds of change swirl all around. Senator McCain conducted a three-hour hearing on Russian hacking yesterday. The radio and Internet are abuzz with anticipation over how the president elect will respond to the in depth release of the CIA’s long investigation. When I switch to AM/FM or to CNN or MSNBC, I am anxious, anticipating disquiet.

From my kitchen window, I am grateful for the sight of a rough hewed oak trunk mottled with snow clumps. The tree is sturdy and steady, sheltered, in part, by a lean companion pine with its green feathery needles stretched outward. The sight brought to mind observations of Peter Wohlleben, the author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. 

These trees are friends. You see how the thick branches point away from each other? That’s so they don’t block their buddy’s light.

I decide to look closer, grab my IPhone and sweater, step out onto the snowy steps and patio. Close up, there are two grand oak trunks leaning towards one another in a “V” shape, root-linked.

Trees like to stand close together and cuddle. There is in fact friendship among trees.

I am grateful for the presence of these two companions just as I am grateful for the friendship of my women’s group. We met yesterday, five of us huddled under hand-knit shawls, to fend off the chill on our necks, our backs as we shared news of family, and worry for our country’s future in anticipation of Trump’s inauguration.

Last night, Marv and I shared Shabbos dinner with two couple friends. The ritual is familiar— we light the Shabbos candles, say a prayer over wine and challah. We talked—first of pleasantries, the winter, plans for travel, one couple, “snow birds” for six weeks, my envy hidden. Mid-meal, we land on Trump, the GOP, their mission to repeal, the topic of dissent— how to make it positive, avoid backlash. What I know, deep down, is that we must stay alert, just as when one tree is attacked by insects…electrical signals pass through the bark and into the roots and from there into fungi networks in the soil that alert nearby trees of danger.

As darkness comes, I lose sight of the trees, turn to the television for news, the worry of new Trump Tweets, its effect on programs I believe in. Would that I could remember, call to mind at will, the soft comfort of calm my morning companion trees invoke. Calm, like gratitude, must be invoked with the deliberate intention to dial down and focus on the in and out breath, the deepening sigh at the sight of snow.

 

 

Post Election: The Search for Gratitude

Sun-splayed tree, 2016

Sun-splashed tree, 2016

There are times, like this past week, when the subject of gratitude comes hard, sticks in my throat. Hillary, her face gray and drawn, her hair lacking its coiffured fluff and luster, spoke out. “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer,” she implored. Obama, overseas, in Germany, gathered crowds, put his best face forward, gave the message that our democracy will carry on and survive.

Yet, as I listen to Hillary and Obama, I mourn, feel regret. I am fearful and believe it is essential to adhere to values and action to assure civility and safety for all. But in the meanwhile, I must answer my own questions.

Who is Trump? How will he lead? Does he have perspective beyond the immediacy of his own lens or is he easily led, swayed by men such as Steve Bannon with his uncanny ability to pinpoint language, switch Trump’s moderate considerations into rhetoric of power with impunity.

Eleven days out, how do I live? How do I make sense of the onslaught of bad news— men who have spoken out against diversity, my core beliefs— being chosen to lead? What day-to-day action do I take? How will I use my time and resources to manage what is now becoming a stream of alien options difficult to digest?

My gratitude blog is my window to the world, a once a week deadline where I show up, rain or shine, to explore what has become the challenge to find and experience gratitude. I began this blog a year ago. Post election, I considered shifting to an every other week schedule. Now, I feel the imperative to continue, to write, to stay the course.

Yesterday, as my neighborhood mechanic was sealing a slow leak in my tire, I took a walk. The sky was energetic with dark clouds swirling, the air brisk with erratic winds as I combed a familiar street on foot to explore a major bridge, shut down, in repair, straight ahead. For weeks, this route has been re-routed, adding up to over a 20-minute encircling to what had been a 10-minute trip. On the ground, close to the site, I understood— they were rebuilding the bridge from the bottom up; rebuilding takes devoted attention and time.

In the afternoon, grateful and refreshed at the image of the bridge, I continued to meander and found another— smaller, simpler in its wooden structure, across from the Wellesley public library. I was in soul-tracking mode, the low sun highlighting tree after tree, some a century and a half old, their limbs stretched, each one perfect in its way. Beyond the trees, I found the bridge, weathered, a flexible, wooden arch, sheltering a spring, grey and gritty from lack of rain, but still running.

With gratitude, I felt the sun on my back as I clicked away on trees. Sometimes, what we need is pause, the time to dig deep, to grasp what is essential before we can find the image, the words to move back into the stream.