As we have been sheltering in place, I have been especially grateful to live in the midst of trees; not just any trees, but the trees that have surrounded us for nearly 30 years. They feel like old friends, knowing family stories, holding our history in their roots. Terry grew up on this land. I can close my eyes and imagine him scampering around the woods, doing chores on the farm, hiking White Oak Mountain up against which our home is built.
These sturdy companions harbor so many memories:
Arbor Day in 1991, daughter Jenna brought home an Ash tree seedling when we were just in the process of building our home here. Terry showed her how to plant the tree and she followed the instructions with the result that the tree has matured over the years. Other Ashes have been birthed from the seedlings of her Ash.
When we built the house, Terry was adamant that we preserve the trees, taking down only those absolutely necessary for the construction of our home. I have a memory of walking with him in the woods when he pointed out a particular tree (out of hundreds on the property) and said with such devotion and in absolute sincerity, “This is my favorite tree.” He seems to know them intimately.
Years ago, with our woods as witness, Terry and I stood surrounded by friends and celebrated our tenth anniversary with a ceremony renewing our vows.
These staunch sentinels also stand as the silent caretakers of the pets who have crossed “the rainbow bridge,” sheltering the animals laid to rest beneath their protective branches.
So embedded were our woods in Jenna’s consciousness that when she went off to college in Texas, she called home a bit distressed: “They don’t have any trees here!” Indeed, they do seem to invade our spirits, even inspiring poets.
Here is a favorite I discovered by Michael S. Glaser*, titled “The Presence of Trees”:
I have always felt the living presence
the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,
as though the woods were marrow of my bone
I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy
beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one
deep in these woods,
that whispers home
*Glaser was Poet Laureate of Maryland 2004-2009
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.
Hope’s Café Bonus: Take a picnic out amongst some trees. For an easy and elegant dessert, cut the top off a strawberry, put it on a skewer, add a bite size brownie, a marshmallow and a second strawberry with the top cut off. Repeat for the number of skewers you want to take to the picnic. Lightly drizzle with chocolate or take some chocolate dip to the picnic if you like. Enjoy the trees and the treats!