From an e-mail that I received from Dottye tonight:
“However, I do have some sad news. For those of you who were here at the farm in April, you will remember the 200-year-old oak tree in front of the old store and in our side yard. The wind storm on early Saturday morning took down over half of it! Sad. sad. sad.
Now the 1/3 left standing looks precarious (and is hanging directly over the old store). Fortunately, the massive tree that fell landed just right so there was no structural damage to the tobacco barn or the store or to the road. BUT, we are going to have to ask the county forester to come out and see what we must do to save the rest of the tree. It might be impossible to do that, in which case we will have to pay someone big bucks to come take down the rest of the tree. I don’t even want to think about that scenario. for a lot of reasons!”
Each of us experienced our own terrible windstorm and part of us was torn away. Sad. Sad. Sad. We stood, very precariously, hanging directly over the rest of our families. Had we fallen, they would have been torn apart. I don’t know who the ‘county forester’ was in our situation, but I wonder if he or she thought each of us might be impossible to save.
Whatever the ‘county forester’ thought, we found one another. Individually we were drooped, wilted, dying. But we leaned on one another and held one another up until our strength returned and new growth sprouted again. We’ll never be the same, but sharing our stories will keep the memories of that beautiful whole tree alive forever.
What if we had not found one another? I don’t even want to think about that scenario. For a lot of reasons.
Dottye Law Currin said:
And these responses are excellent examples of why this group means so much to me. Whenever there is trouble or sadness or challenges there are wise words to meet the occasion. Bringing fresh perspective to our life events, both the ordinary and the extraordinary, has given me a richer and fuller life over the past ten years. I hope we can find at least a dozen shoots from the old tree for replanting; one for each of these awesome mothers is my goal!
Carol Henderson said:
I read both posts–Dottye’s email and Kathy’s above and thought of a Stanley Kunitz book called “The Wild Braid,” about his wonder at his 100 years of being alive and his feeling most comfortable in the garden. His mother died when he was young–nobody ever discussed her death– and the only place he found peace with the idea of the life cycle was in nature.
Our group outings together at healing places—the mountains, the beach, and even in each other’s living rooms and at a cafe drinking lattes together–have helped us all sprout shoots. There is restoration in the imagination and we tap its sap, again and again when we write. We are also Persephones, innocently picking flowers when the earth cracks open and delivers us into the underworld.
The “Wild Braid” refers to the tangle of snakes that lived in a tree in Kunitz’s garden. I think of the black snake high in the branches at the tree by Dottye’s porch and how some of us were afraid to walk beneath those limbs, thinking the swirly thing might dive off a limb onto our shoulders.
Was it that tree?