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Pickle Me This

October 12, 2020

What the Trees Were Doing

We called them Sad Covid Walks, but only in hindsight. At the time we were walking, they were everything we had, during those months when traffic was deserted and the only ads in the transit shelters were telling us all to stay home.

We had a circuit through and around the university campus, a walk we took once a week to track the progress of spring. Two secret copses—one at the school of mining, the other at the faculty of forestry—and then the tiny Zoo Woods beside Sidney Smith Hall. Which at first were barren of anything green, just a trillium here and there, and then the season came on like a deluge. Never have I been more grateful for spring.

A woman in my blogging course last month wrote about that waiting, and watching the naked trees with an attention she’d never experienced before. About how as the leaves fall away again, she is trying to hold onto the promise of winter trees instead of sadness as the seasons change again.

We’ve taken such comfort from trees this year. Retracing our steps today even though we really didn’t want to, even though anything that was full-on in Covid spring, we’ve developed an aversion to (except for ice cream).

But I wanted to see what those trees were doing, to give thanks for the ways they have saved us, and the ways they persist, oblivious to everything, from the sad people looking up, to the pigeons in their boughs.

To their majesty, their steadfastness, and the admirable way they keep reaching for the sun.

April 20, 2020

A Note to a Tree

Dear Tree,

You are a silver maple or a black maple—I can never remember. Which doesn’t mean I love you less, because you’re everything. A home for birds, squirrels and a family of raccoons. Your shade means there are a handful of days in which our lack of air conditioning matters. Because of you, we live in a tree-house, a different view of you from so many of our windows. I have revelled in your gorgeous foliage as I relaxed beneath you in my hammock. Spending all year cleaning up after you, white blossoms in the spring, your maple keys afterwards, those yellow leaves that fall in November, and the sticks and twigs that break in winter with the ice. I can set my clock by you.

(Once I also looked out my window to see an arborist trimming your branches in a rain storm, smoking a cigarette like it was nothing. One of the most memorable performances I have ever seen.)

I am afraid of losing you. Desperately. You are 150 yrs old, so this is not an irrational fear, and when I am afraid of heavy winds, you’re what I am thinking about. How our homes, our lives, and all of us are so vulnerable. I cannot imagine this place without you, who was here before anything else.

But you have also taught me that strength is bending, that deep roots can endure, and how much everything is so connected.
We’re so lucky to be your neighbour,
xo

(You too can write a #notetoatree for a chance to win a collection of nature books from Groundwood Books in celebration of the publication of Andrea Curtis’s A Forest in the City. Head over to Twitter or Instagram and check the #notetoatree hashtag for more details. Two days left to enter!)

Pre-Order my New Novel: Out October 27

Book Cover WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL

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