They stand before us

They stand before us, dependent.

The next generation with wondrous eyes and trusting hearts whose unhardened tips are still kelly green and soft. They have yet to taste bitterness, hardship or disappointment.

They stand before us trusting we will love and nurture, shed our experiences and wisdom like a delicate bed of pine needles, encompassing and sheltering their future.

They stand before us expecting a fertile and viable soil to cultivate, just as we expected of our elders who believed in us enough to honor and preserve the earth.

They stand before us and ask that we give them the same opportunities that were given to us, and to love and cherish the land and each other, so that they can have thick bark and strong deep roots to endure the storms, and lasting branches of foliage green with energy from the sun.

The storm

Slick rock and wet leaves surrounding roots like toes curled in boots of tension and indecisive actions. Days of spring rain falling, half of you still a clear thought, amidst an exhausting amount of hopeful wishes.

How does this happen? How can it rain for days, soak everything around you but somehow half of you stays dry?

It’s because of your canopy. The depth of layered foliage that you’ve managed to grow and nurture. The learned responses to stress or unfamiliar moments that help you to become strong and thick.

It’s because of your tribe. Those that surround you and stay tight to your outermost branches, weaving their leaves with yours. It doesn’t matter that you are maple and they an oak, or you an ash and they a pine.

May you be surrounded. May you be thick with the gift of foliage. May you weather this storm and the next.

Just below the surface

He stands out among the others, older yes, and yet somehow full of life without his shell. His exterior has no bark. Lines, so many lines, some deep and wide and others narrow yet most curve and connect, a whole colony of experience.

We don’t have to wait until we are old and worn to change. We don’t have to wait until all of the things in our life eat at us and make tunnels and holes and cracks. We don’t have to wait until what bugs us begins to connect and make a pattern. We don’t have to wait until it causes our bark to peel away and expose our inner hardened eaten self that allowed it to happen.

We can free what is just below the surface and be our true self.

Focus

Moist pine needles dissected, roots bulging with rocks of different sizes and shapes. Moss blanketing edges, some with fresh snow, others finding light to melt the snow and be refreshed. Trees as canopies holding back the mist as it burns off from the morning sun, just after a spring snowfall.

When we choose to make a change we need to focus on the tasks ahead, especially the ones that require faith. Those tasks that lead us step by step into our next adventure. The ones that are not clear. The ones that we may not understand how they connect together yet we know, deep down, that they are the right choices. The right thing to do.

Our path. Our choices. Our steps on the moist ground. Maybe choosing the easy footing but then a challenge, a rock and another combination that we don’t think a lot about because we are focused on the sight of the sun, the awareness, burning off the mist of blindness.

We need to have the kind of faith and resolve that a skydiver has knowing that all the preparation up to this point was for this moment, and in order to jump, they need to have faith that their parachute will work and they will land successfully.

Wild Lilly

Through the old leaves and sticks and pine bark. Through the forest floor and foundation that was once someone’s home. Here in the back woods the wild lillies dominate the landscape, enduring, populating. The lillies once just a small part of someone’s garden, maybe the feature or just a cheap way to cover the ugly spots and uneven landscape, but not wild. Now they multiply out in roots and send up shoots of hope and promise and renewal against a backdrop solid and unmoved through decades of witnessing life.

As we age we our thoughts and desires become more rigid. We solidify our persona almost as an act of declaration, determined to be right and make less mistakes.

We loose the joy and freedom of navigating the unknown and learning something unexpected, soft and dynamic.

Challenge yourself to send out roots and shoots. To go past your solid foundation, out into the unknown of the forest floor. Past the leaves from last year and the debris from the last storm.

Past what is known and into an expanse to the unknown.

Just a bit of light

Light filtering, in a forest mostly dark and deep yet it finds a way, awakening the forest floor and a few ferns healthy and fortunate enough to root atop a rock, claiming their own kingdom.

Sometimes we have to own our own kingdom. We have to dive down deep into a rock or the most unkind place without soil, without warmth, and reach up through it all to overcome, so that the light can hit us.

Sometimes we have to have shallow roots and lightly dusted snow to refresh our memory of spring and the warmer days to follow. Our roots shallow so that we can survive knowing that it is all temporary any way.

But I want deep roots, entangled and nurtured by my fellow green nation friends. I want to be held and supported. I want to be strong for others. I want to be a part of a network, not just a tribe but a kingdom.

I want more than just a bit of light.

She

She’s gold, noticeable in the sunlight, a contrast to all that is white, brown, green and gray of winter.

Her trunk angled toward the warmth, her only concession to what is expected.

She renews by slowly shedding what no longer meets her needs. Her bark peels away in gold, tan, brown, their ends hanging, curling back up to the sky or just limp gathering ice from the cold wind, both rough and smooth.

Her distinctiveness is her gift to the forest for without the gold, the shine, the curl, all would be uniform and tidy.

Her beauty, her power comes from within. She is authentic.

Because I care

Young branches heavy with snow, protected and nurtured, exposed just enough to feel the warmth of the sun. Community surrounding and encouraging them to grow, to reach, to become.

Winter’s chill, darkness of sleep and lazy shadows meandering through the forest bringing armor to the little ones.

My elders have long left this earth but I remember the community and when I see these young trees I too want to wrap them in snow and tuck them in for the night.

I want to protect them and keep them from making the same mistakes I made, embark well-meaning words of caution learned from life’s lessons. Don’t pay too much for a house, always save money, give when you have the chance. Always under bake chocolate chip cookies and keep plenty of sand on hand in the winter when the freezing rain washes the snow from your driveway and you are left with pure ice.

I will always be a mom, not just to my children and grand children but to everyone because I care. I will teach, and nurture, until my last breath is taken away and I leave this earth for good.

I want to want to be here

I am but a tree beside the road. Placed atop a small mound, my lower trunk bends from the years of giving, of responding. My roots are not fully covered by the ground now frozen, my tips exposed.

I want some nice person to come by and cover my roots with rich soil, warm, cover me so that I will stay here by the side of the road. I want to stay and grow. I want to become like the tree across the road, big, old, wise, branches brown and strong. Leaves that turn bright orange or burnt red. Shade that cools and protects. I want to stay to become the tree across the road. Because I know I can.

But now I sit, roots exposed, cold. Wanting and wanting to be moved, or changed. Knowing that some day the change will come. Spring will be here. The ground will thaw.

And I will become.