Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Partridge in a Bare Tree

On the fifth day before Christmas, I loaded my truck to "give". Home-made wreaths were snuggled in the bed, teddy bears and dolls filled a big bag, and Christmas cassette tapes lined a basket. Yes, I was going to give all this away, but mind you, most of it was left-over. The wreaths were no-sells from my sale (see blog post below: A Tribute to Old Blue), the stuffed animals were like-new garage sale discards, and the Christmas music cassettes were replaced by CDs. No skin off my back except for the time I put into making the wreaths, a few supplies, and some bucks dropped at garage sales last summer.

I didn't know where I was going with this load except that I was thinking about people who had health issues piled on top of economic woes. The road I live on in the suburbs heads straight into the inner-city. The 12 miles should have been an easy drive, but I was feeling very uneasy. Where am I going? Why do I think people in the city would want these wreaths? Why am I afraid? Why do I feel foolish? Why in hell is it so hard to give to people that I am feeling something for? The only thing I liked about the drive was its sense of adventure.

Nearly a half-hour down the road I noticed a building with big letters on its side, something like Family Health Center. I turn into the parking lot thinking this is a really stupid idea. There weren't many cars in the lot and I didn't see a single person. Why am I here? "OK, just pull up in front of the entrance," something was directing me. "Now, get out of the truck," it persisted while I wanted to hide. So now what? There is still nobody around. "OK, walk around to the back end of the truck and put down the gate." I followed these silly directions while it seemed like I was the only person outdoors in the whole city that winter day.

Whoa!! The gate came down and the people came out... from buildings, cars, and taxi-cabs. I invited them to select a wreath assuring them that they were free. As they reached into the truck to pick out their personal favorite, I was stunned with their pleasure. In the urban greyness, these coils twisted with branches from my dying spruce tree and adorned with big red bows, looked magnificent; 100 times better than they had in my wooded suburban yard. These simple rings entwined with prickly spruce needles curved the complex, worried creases out of the recipients' faces and weaved them into awe-struck smiles. Meanwhile, the stuffed animals were shuffled through, finding new homes in the arms of gleeful young caregivers. I felt like Santa when a woman in a well-worn coat and missing her two front teeth came straight up to me with a specific request, "Do you have Oh Holy Night with no singing, just the music?" I filled her wish with a cassette tape that hadn't been played for years at home. In 10 minutes, even before the security guards arrived to see what was the flurry, everything was gone, gone in a hurry. How much easier can giving get?

What about receiving? Sometimes I feel hesitant about receiving---especially in accumulating more unnecessary stuff, and gifts perhaps given out of obligation. The parking lot wreath exchange was different. I joyfully accepted the unexpected robust hugs, the "God bless you, ma'am!" and "Merry Christmas" wishes. These givers waited in line, and I am not kidding you, to give me hugs! I made an enormous haul at this gift exchange.

So with the last bit of green from a dying, half-naked Blue Spruce tree, I drove myself into the scary woods of urbanocity. It was a poorly planned adventure, but very enriching. That's where true love gave to me......and I saw a partridge in a bare tree.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Tribute to Old Blue

A Tribute Looking for Warmth

Self-serve Christmas Wreath Stand

Painting of Old Blue Guarding Our Home

Do you see the painting of the cabin above? Look at the tall Blue Spruce to the left of the door. That is the tree that has guarded the front door of our home since we moved in 26 years ago. It is one of the reasons why we bought the house. We use to bend beneath it's branches to enter the little cabin, our first home. It watched us bring home two new-born babies. It guarded their growth and all our family's activities to and fro, beneath it's wings, for 26 years. Early on, as the family grew, we added on to the little cabin, ultimately building a large home in a U-shape around Blue Spruce. We thought we were preserving it, but we may have helped contribute to its demise......building too closely and smothering it to death. We thrived, and it died.

Sadly, this week we had to cut it down as 2/3 of it had already died. Two tree specialists from Savory Tree Service in Toledo, Matt and Brian, did a great job dropping this 70 foot giant so that it didn't go through the roof or windows. I pruned the green branches and my husband salvaged firewood, determined not to waste any bit of this friend. (see middle photo....self-serve Christmas wreath sales stand on our side-porch). As the tree specialists held their chain saws over the last section of felled trunk, it dawned on me how to pay my respects to this oldster.

The image was clear in my mind. I ran up to Matt and shouted over the noisy saws, "Wait! Could you just leave this section lay as it is, and plane the top couple of inches off instead?" Matt was skilled with the saw and smiled when I invited him to do the chainsaw art. In five minutes I had an eight foot bench which nobody was going to move - ever! The trunk had homed itself right next to its stump, on an inviting angle to the front door. I further suggested that the remaining stump be leveled off. Now I have a table at one end of the bench!

In the spring when it warms up, I will sand the bench and table and protect them with a sealant.......maybe. What I really look forward to doing is sitting on the bench. I want to watch the tulips break through the earth near its base. I want to use its table to hold my cup and give thanks for the 26 years of wellness we've had as it stood over us. Maybe Old Blue will feel honored that my little bottom is warming its big heart-wood. Ya think?