Twenty-Three years ago today, which is Friday October 13th, 2023 Kenny and I got married. It was one of the best days of my life at that time and remains as such still. It was a Friday the 13th in 2000 as well. There was a summer spell weather wise that year so that sunny Friday was 80 degrees. Gracie was 12 weeks into her journey as a human, hidden in my belly and the future seemed bright.
We cut down the large sugar maple that has provided endless hours of shade and fun since we moved in to this house six weeks prior to our wedding. Our yard has seen many changes over the years to match our needs as a family. Since Molly died every change is a challenge, even the small ones.
In an upcoming podcast episode, I will talk about all of this, but the removal of this tree was huge. In the process of saying good bye to it, the last twenty-three years played a song in my head. Nature can often be a metaphor for life. We do not always see these metaphors in real time, rather they come in our memories and reflections.
Much of residential Concord was built between 1895 and 1905. Many school buildings, homes, businesses and the like share this time span as their building date. So too, do the trees. Whether they were planted then, or grew on their own much of the greenery that shades Concord is well over 100 years old.
In a forest this is not such a big deal. Trees are a life line for the natural world in all of their stages. Their bark feeds deer, their leaves feed caterpillars. Their branches provide nesting spots for birds and resting spots for critters that climb. As they age woodpeckers create internal tunnels and eat the grubs that grow from the rot. Small animals’ winter inside the trunk and when the tree finally falls, the ground is fed with its demise and larger animals can now call it home.
This cycle does not work in the yard of a family.
We saw a decline in our tree several years before Molly died. Large mushrooms growing out of places where limbs had fallen or been cut. Less branches with leaves. More branches on the ground. A tree company came out to test it for us and let us know that we had a limited time left with this tree being a safe part of our yard. We sat on this information for the better part of a year.
Then a giant tree in our neighbor’s yard fell.
Like any tree catastrophe nearby, this event caused other neighbors to have their trees looked at and lo and behold, many of the trees that line our little street and shade our houses and yards are close to their end. So, we called local tree legend Rocky. Phone call to tree removal was roughly six weeks.
My sister Johanna spent over 20 years in the tree removal industry with life long friend Keith. His specialty now is stump grinding. When I mentioned this to Rocky, another local tree removal legend that she was my sister I was regaled with several stories. After Keith, who no longer cuts down trees, Rocky is the only person I wanted for this job.
I needed the connection.
With each limb’s removal another aspect of my life under and alongside that tree bubbled to the surface of memories. The yellow rope swing, the white holiday lights, raking the red leaves into giant piles, bemoaning those same leaves as they fell into the pool. Using the tree as a measure of the sun’s travel pattern from spring to fall.
Lying on the grass with Gracie and Molly looking up at it.
Molly Gracie Gracie Molly Molly Gracie Gracie Molly. The girls the girls the girls. This was my life and my future for thirteen years. Everything we did as a family and everything I did as a mother was done with the belief that this reality was forever. I cling to things that represent this reality with a fervor now. And, with the passage of time, many of these things change and disappear.
In an autumn that will see a new kitchen and a redesigned yard, the exit of the tree is the literal and metaphorical beginning. The first in a three-step process toward preserving memories while removing evidence of them in the process of taking care of our home. I have to admit, it has been tough.
The tree and the remains of the tree from a pantry window that will soon be a door.
I have had two days of coming around the corner to my tree-less yard to begin my acceptance and gratitude journey in regard to this event. I am ok and then I am not, but this is all part of the circle of life. We are already re-thinking ow our yard can be re-designed. It will never be the same, but that does not mean it can’t be great.
“The same” can make me really sad sometimes.
After this anniversary the landscaping start, then the book signing, then Halloween, and the then kitchen. I used to love running circles around the track, I can do this circle of life thing, I really can.
As Coach Luti would say before my track races, go out conservatively, push the pace after half way, finish strong, and most importantly, (said with a grin) keep turning left!
I got it Coach! Left it is!