Parasites take a bad rap, but I found this one beautiful and intriguing. Lets take it a step further and say (extra)ordinary. This was found in a Conservation area just north east of Toronto while out hiking this woodland paradise. Other growths have been spotted this summer, but this was, by far, the most beautiful.
My spring assignment which I have chosen to accept is to document by photographs the leafing out of a young tree in my area. My weekly walks takes me right by it. But we are off to a slow start. One week is mild, the next there is snow on the ground with temperatures below zero. Keep in mind this is still the 3rd week in April. This is going to require patience on my part. This week shows great promise; lots of sun and warming nicely. What kind of tree is it? Next week I will have to put my sleuthing hat on and hope I read all the clues correctly.
This is not a very big tree, now. Someday it will tower above the spruce in the background. It will certainly outlive me, I hope. It is hard for me to understand how something this fragile and skinny has the means of surviving our winters. And yet, here it is.
My detective work tells me that this is an oak tree, based on the dead leaves at the base.
The hunter-gatherers of the Fertile Crescent at the east end of the Mediterranean realized some 10,000 years ago that for a plant to thrive it must first appear to die. And so it is today, new life springs from what appears to be no life at all.
So here we are in the 3rd week of May and many of the trees in my area are in full leaf and a most welcome addition to Spring. My little tree, well finally there is evidence of a leaf escaping winter’s grasp. I am sure this tree has a lot more patience awaiting Spring and the life giving warmth than most humans. We are seldom satisfied with our lot as regards to weather even though we know full well what to expect! As to my sleuthing ability, I would not make a good arborist. The leaves are jagged and not lobed as in an Oak tree. More on that later.
It is now June, and my tree is fully leafed out, to be totally appreciated. After digging around several websites, I am going to say it is a hickory tree. My mistake in calling it an oak. Never got this close to watching a tree come to life. As with so many aspects of nature, we tend to just walk on by. I am glad I did not.
Why should it take over four decades of marriage to finally realize that it was not working and would not work going forward. That is the question I have asked myself a number of times. Why did I wait so long? That is probably a whole new blog. The boys were well settled with their own families; I was retired; we had a nice and comfortable home which was paid for; an adequate income. Yet there I was, apparently stuck in a rut. Rut – a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change. And hard to change it was indeed.
To admit a marriage is over, that it has run its course, is never easy, or a decision to be taken lightly. Regardless of the circumstances that led me there. I walked away feeling that I had failed. Failed a vow, failed my family, failed myself. Would I have done things differently over those fourty or so years knowing where I was now? How would I know? Hindsight was not going to save our union. Our philosophical differences ran way too deep. Or to put it another way; damn religion. Our efforts at fixing the rift ended up in finger-pointing and not always handled well, on both sides.
Now, some twenty months later, and still waiting for a final settlement, was it worth it? Did I make the right decision? The title of this blog is New Beginnings, and that is the place I would like to continue from.
When you are living by yourself, there is much time available for reflection. This reflection exercise can take you in a number of directions, depending whether one is experiencing anger, sadness, anxiety, self-pity or joy. Joy seems the odd man out in that list, but it still can happen, and when it does, embrace it, accept it, do not be suspicious of its presence, for it will help in getting through the others. The pain runs deep. I tried to ignore it, it does not go away. I had to deal with it.
Over time I came to realize that I needed a plan, a vision. It did not need to be carved in stone, but all the markers should at least be pointing in the same direction. I needed to know where I now wanted to be in life. I found getting there cannot always be accomplished on your own. Family and friends are to be thanked for their words and encouragement, though not always welcome, nevertheless necessary.
Developing new relationships for me, has always been a challenge, especially with members of the opposite sex.. I never was able to mix and mingle well. I was never mister personality. I would feel awkward and out of my element. And yet I new that I did not want to spend the rest of my life alone. The bar scene was out of the question. Being blessed with good health, I found walking and an exercise routine to be of great benefit to both body and mind.So as to not go stir crazy, I would get out and do a lot of walking. But not belonging to a structured walking/hiking club, everybody seemed in too big a hurry and moving in the opposite direction. I felt alone in a crowd. But, there was still that necessary element missing – a social element. After a few failed attempts, it was suggested to me to try an online dating service. The concept of this seemed at odds to me. Was I buying love? Oh what the heck, I could always hide behind the screen. What a great opportunity to tell lies about myself!
But lies have a habit of coming back and biting, and I was never a good liar. I must admit I entered into this exercise a doubting Thomas. Happy to report that I came out the other side a believer. To make a long story short, or this blog shorter, online dating can be quite the adventure, and exercise in honesty for both body and soul!
When someone new enters into your life, you are filled with anticipation, curiosity, happiness and, fear. I did not want to screw this up. The experts keep telling us that dating at my age should be a walk in the park. We are supposed to be experienced, confident, worldly, eager, and yet human nature has that knack of catching you off guard. I had to remind myself that this was new territory that I had not explored for close to 50 years. Expectations be damned! The words rusty, awkward and scared came to mind. And yet a certain lady quickly allayed all my misgivings.
The day she called me, yes, she called me!, was cold and snowy but the sun must have been shining on me as I quickly warmed to her voice. In her on-line profile she describes herself as “energetic,healthy,sweet, passionate,loving and a great listener.” We agreed to meet for coffee several days later. I have to admit I was very comfortable having a conversation with her. I only found out later that being a “great listener” does not mean that I get to do all the talking! Maybe my nerves were working overtime. I guess I did not scare her off, as she agreed to a show later that week.
Is there a pattern out there on how a relationship between a man and a woman should proceed? If there is it was lost on me. My mind was racing, trying to make sure I was dotting all my I’s and crossing all my T’s. Shortly after meeting her I knew that I would have to spend some time re-arranging my mind so there would be room for her to stay. I can’t believe I felt that way so early in a relationship. Speaking of my mind,focusing on tasks seemed increasingly difficult. Let nature take its course seemed to be at odds with my oh so usual methodical approach. This “creature of habit” soon found himself wallowing in a storm of emotions. Several more dates followed, eventually there was that first kiss, the joy and sence of adventure and discovery carried me forward on its wave.
The words “I love you” are just that,-words. But when I heard them for the first time in my life, the swell of emotion was too great. I wept. Not at that moment, but later in private. Scared and too embarrassed to show my emotions, to lay myself out there for all to see . Loving this lady, and being loved has proved to be my undoing. And , this can only be looked at as a good thing. I needed a jolt of reality. For the first time in my life I can feel like I can fly. To breathe, to open up, to pursue, to feel like the pressure that was on me is finally manageable. This indeed is a new beginning; a vibrant love to sustain and share, to treat with tenderness, and respect, at a level quite possibly neglected by myself in the past.
May I be granted the wisdom and grace to be worthy of this wonderful relationship. To think that this all started with the first words of her email to me ” I wonder……”