This massive tree grows beside the Cannon River. The city cared enough to protect the giant’s roots and keep it from falling into the river. I stood and pondered its braced roots, fascinated. When I turned to greet the people who passed me a few gave me a funny look – the one that says silently, “She’s odd.” I wanted to say, “Yes, I am, but I didn’t. Instead, I smiled big because, in these days of COVID 19 and cancer, I don’t get out as much as I’d like, and there I was outside on a beautiful day mask-free, and I could smile big with my eyes and lips.
I walked this path yesterday. It was once little more than a narrow route the deer walked. A place kids wandered in what felt like the wilderness, even though less than a block away, traffic rumbled over a rickety old bridge. The path is now somewhat paved and has railings where the edges are steepest. The trail still ends at the city pool, which is so much smaller than I remembered it.
As I wandered the other day, and even though woodland plants and the river below surrounded me, it felt much tamer. I guess that feeling of walking on the wild side lived only in my imagination.
We lived in Cannon Falls part of one year. I was in the fifth grade and am not sure the number of the months we lived on Park Street West. While there, we had a bear in our backyard and wood ducklings in our bathtub. It was the winter Mama cried shoveling snow, we rode our sled down the steep road, and Daddy got frostbitten fingers hitchhiking home from work in the Cities to be with us the next day: Thanksgiving. His hands bothered him – sometimes terribly – for the rest of his life.
Anyway, back to the walk. And the roots.
Standing just off the path, I thought about octopuses and their tentacles reaching. After reading The Soul of an Octopus, I think about them a lot. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, the roots amazed me with their size, reach, and purposes:
- To go deep into the earth to hold the tree in place for years – in this case, hundreds of years.
- To provide nourishment so the tree can grow branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruit with seeds that continue the tree’s legacy. I do wonder how many trees one giant oak produces via acorns in a couple of hundred (or more) years.
Only God knows.
Walking past these roots on my way back to Jonathan – he let me wander alone for a while – smart man that he is. I stop and start many times, even on short walks. There is no lovely pace to my efforts. No holding hands unless it’s that kind of walk. If my camera is on my neck – it’s not that kind of walk!
Anyway, I stopped again, and this time, a new thought crossed my mind: it’s fun to stand in awe and take pictures of leaf-laden trees. I delight in falling acorns and watching maple seeds twirl in the wind. I love to listen to bare branches in the winter creak in the cold air. All of these moments are photo-worthy. But without the roots, deep in the darkness where worms hide from those who fish and rodents build dens and unseen communities. Yet, it is from this unseemly place that all the beauty we see is made possible.
I walked toward my true love with two takeaways:
- The practical: my life story will matter more if I let you see my roots. The unseemly parts that I feel certain I’m to write. And share. I’d rather let you see only the good things – the radiant leaves, acorns with funky little hats, and watch the moments of delight – the twirls and swirls. Maybe we’d all enjoy that more, but that’s not why I’m here. Historically, the memoirs we remember the most are those that include the dark places where the roots of our lives go deep. That’s what I’m here to share.
- The spiritual: my life story will mean more if you see Who my soul and my life are rooted in. No one matters as much as Him. “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:2 NLT To be sure, I get all shook up emotionally at times, but the roots of my faith will hold.
When I got back to Jonathan, I sat on this beautiful bench – a piece of art placed in the park and carved out of resin. I’m not sure how the artist accomplished it, but I loved sitting there for a moment.
Until Next Time,
In case you’d like to read The Soul of an Octopus, click on the book cover.