My property is surrounded by trees. Large trees. Several Norway Spruce, maple, elm, oak. Smaller trees dot the property. Cherry, pear, juniper, mulberry, dogwood, elder. The neighbors across the way have a yard filled with white pine, planted at least fifty years ago. Usually, being surrounded by such greenery gives me a sense of serenity. Usually.
During storms, I worry about a particular Norway Spruce that arcs toward my bedroom wall. It was lush before the vines strangled it, leaving its branches bereft of needles. The trunk is tall, slender, curved, powerful in its own way. I imagine this trunk crashing through my roof, letting rain and squirrels in, allowing our indoor cats a way out.
In an effort to breathe more easily during storms, I had the trees around my property trimmed, and the dead spruce removed. The pruned trees are vibrant. Light filters through the canopy. Nutrients flow to healthy branches and leaves. Ground cover flourishes.
A few weeks after the pruning, a monster storm battered the area. Heavy winds, buffeting rains. To the rear of my yard lives a robust maple. About ten feet to the right of the maple is a majestic Norway Spruce, one of the trees that had been thinned. It did not handle the strong winds well. With a crack that sent me running to the window, the trunk broke, and the canopy fell into the crotch of the maple at a 90 degree angle.
Within a day the tree was carved, and logs of spruce lean against the shed.
It would be easy to be annoyed about a tree falling so soon after we'd paid to have it pruned.
It would be easy to be annoyed about spending more money to have the tree cut down.
It is easier, though, to be grateful.
No one was hurt, no property damaged. The maple was not injured as it supported the spruce.
I am reminded to be grateful each day. Last week a deer hit my car with a thud that shook me. It disappeared into the woods, leaving my car damaged, me unhurt. I am grateful that I was not harmed in the collision. I am glad that the deer ran off. I am grateful that I have insurance, and I know of a trustworthy body shop. I am grateful that the road was not busy and no one else was involved. I am grateful to the police officer who took my statement and wrote up the report. I chuckled when I read it. "Deer was at fault for this accident." I have an online friend who creatively took to social media with the story from the deer's point of view. I had another chuckle.
Today, as the temperatures plummet, I am grateful for the heat in my house, and a hot cup of tea.
As we approach Thanksgiving, more of us are paying attention to what we have, and remembering to express our gratitude. For friends, for family, for jobs, for homes, for food, for health, for loved ones moving peacefully into death, for infants screaming their way into this life.
It is in that remembering that we heal ourselves.
How will you keep the season of gratitude alive throughout the year?
Let me know. I'd love to hear from you.