The tree was lying on its side when I got to it.
It was a nice-looking pine tree, fluffy and full and as tall as me. The strong winds coupled with some unstable footing had caused it to fall over. This seemed too sad to simply walk by. I went over to the tree and, with a little effort, got it standing upright again. It looked much happier. I finished my walk, feeling I had done my part.
The next day, it was lying on its side again.
I examined it more closely. It had been relying on the rotting remains of another fallen pine to stand upright and the old log had finally given way, taking the young pine with it. I set my hiking poles down and hauled a couple of large rocks lying nearby over to the base of the pine, propping it back up.
The next day, it had fallen over again. This was going to be a bigger project than I expected. I hauled a lot of rocks over and piled them at the base of the young tree. “There! That should hold you.” That night, as I sat on the patio, I noticed how the wind was picking up. “I bet my tree has fallen again,” I thought.
I was right.
So, on the fourth day, I found another downed log, similar to the one my tree had been relying on, but not as rotten, and hauled it over. I jammed one end into the soil and propped the other end against the narrow tree trunk. A family of bikers nearby watched me curiously, as I piled rocks on top of the log to further secure it.
“Just helping this little tree!” I explained. They smiled, assuming I was crazy, I’m sure.
Yesterday, I returned to the tree. It was standing upright. “Hurray!” I said aloud. At that moment, I remembered my husband, Peter, and I had decided to move.
So far, this decision has resulted in little action on our part. But yesterday Peter ordered a moving van, so presumably things will become very real very soon.
We have lots of good reasons to move.
My parents and my sister and most of my relatives live in the Midwest, as does most of Peter’s family. Particularly during the pandemic, we realized how much we missed family, how many occasions we had missed, and how quickly time passes.
And so, we have decided to make the move and we are both filled with mixed feelings because it is hard to leave a place, no matter how many reasons there are to be somewhere else.
Standing in front of this little tree, hoping it would now become a huge, towering pine, I felt a small pang because I would never know. That is the hardest thing about moving. I will never know what I will miss, not living here.
But I was never going to know.
This tree may outlive me by hundreds of years, or it may perish by the end of the summer. I will never know this, nor will I know what any path I have not taken might hold.
Instead, I imagine, because that is all I can do to keep myself upright. I imagine spending my mother’s next birthday with her and I imagine going to the theater with my oldest friend and I imagine seeing my nephew graduate.
And, in the back of my mind, I imagine this tree standing tall for hundreds of years after I am dead, on stable footing because of me.
Till next time,