The Grandfather Tree

Hiking has been a life-long love; the woods are a wondrous place, ever changing. I can hike the same trails each year and leave having recognized much, but the trail and flora and fauna have changed. They move. They bend. They morph. There is life.

It’s my happy place and it soothes. I never tire of its abundance or beauty.

Have you noticed the immediate sense of peace that engulfs once among the trees, once under its gently moving canopy? It stills my heart, wraps me in calm. I soak it up.

There is so much more.

Sometimes it’s a distant caw-caw-caw, or the sound of silence–my favorite–and the stillness it offers. I often stand motionless, waiting. I am not sure what for, maybe a prolonging of the moment, for the peace to enter and dance its way through me, waltzing to the other side, washing, cleansing, leaving me refreshed.

The woodsy aroma envelopes; its freshness is instant. It’s the power of the absence of exhaust fumes, of melting plastic, the chemical fumes; I breathe. My lungs open, and fill, and I welcome health. I breathe again. And, again.

My mind has cleared, my body charged. I am open to discovery.

A rustling at trail’s edge leaves me wondering what creature have I disturbed or frightened. Sometimes I witness a hurried escape to safer places, but often not. Squirrels and birds abound, but snakes and other critters–scary bugs to many–may appear. They, too, have their place.

There is much to absorb. There is much to appreciate. Much has been offered.

The fallen trees remind me of a book I once read to my children, a book about the cycle of life. Its premise is that although a tree has fallen, it still has purpose; it offers life. It becomes the home of fallen seeds, provides the safety and resources needed for germination. It gives life and offers shelter to the plants and animals in its immediate surroundings. As an elder, it becomes the grandpa tree. Over time, as the base and shelter of the fallen tree die, as grandpa decays and withers, life above continues.

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My favorite grandfather tree

I often wonder what others think about the grandfather trees, whether they notice or continue walking. I wonder if they think, “If this tree could talk, what would it say?” or “What has it seen?” The history lover in me walks back in time, listens and watches for the parts, piecing it together, ever curious.

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One moment

The woods are full of lessons, fresh discoveries. We can learn much about life, cycles, moments in time, and above all, appreciation. Sometimes, all it takes is one moment.

It’s only January but I can’t wait to hit the trail.

Do you hike? What will you look for?


The Grandpa Tree, Mike Donahue (see link above).

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