This is my one hundredth posting. The rings of thoughts circling my mind are now Living in the Gap. Today I’m a bit of an emotional wreck, I sit in my backyard, commiserating with my beautiful magnolia tree, deeply rooted in the western corner. This is the space I return to, time after time, to think, to lament, to listen. Today I seek the soothing presence of my beloved tree, who assures me, “all is well, all is well, all is well.”
When I consider of the layers of stories this tree has witnessed, I dissolve into her past, viewing life from a loftier perspective. I believe she found fertile ground before the neighborhood was conceived. She started her life in the midst of a prune orchard, wide open, and free. When the contractors marched onto her land, the ground was subdivided, and foundations were laid. Families in search of shelter formed a simple but solid community. She knew who my good friends would be before I did, she enticed them into the neighborhood, so they could find me.
This tree watched over me in grade school, as I roamed the streets at midnight, accompanied by a gaggle of silly friends, armed with stolen toilet paper, and mischievous intentions. We would decorate the houses of the boys we liked with our long white streamers, then run squealing back to the safety of our family room, sleeping bags, and popcorn. We were spoiled, naive, and innocent but the tree knew better. She must have observed the young girl down the street, sneaking out after dark to rendezvous with a boy, because her parents did not approve. She married him years later, had two kids, and set up housekeeping not ten miles away. I used to be her best friend but now I realize the tree knew much more about this girl than me.
I am a little nostalgic today, as my son Tony, prepares for an extended journey. He will be living in Australia for the next year and a half. I can not really think about his departure without tearing up and losing my composure, so I ignore the calendar, and the shrinking days to this arduous goodbye. He will grow as a man during this time. He will have many experiences that I will not witness and this causes an ache deep in my heart. I trust this young man to direct his own life, to seek out new challenges, and to follow his own destiny. He is ever so compassionate, capable, and strong. I will miss him more than he will ever know. I worry that our family cat will have passed before he returns. In two years he might have a new niece or nephew to love. I will miss his passion for life, his noble influence in our home, and our early morning chats over coffee. Tony has grown up in this house, there is not a place I can turn, where a memory of my son doesn’t come to mind.
It was our beloved tree who watched in horror as this young man mounted his bicycle in our driveway, rode through an occupy rally in Oakland, crossed the Carquinez Bridge, and climbed the Mayacamas Mountains by moonlight, ending up in Clearlake after a twenty-three hour solo ride. No one knew but the tree. He has an adventurous spirit that will not be tamed. I sit quietly beneath the family tree, silent, strong, and centered. I hear her whisper in the breeze, “all is well, all is well, all is well.”