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Cedars and a Foolish Example

Spiritual Smart Aleck

The alders, the maples, the horse chestnut, and the apple tree have all lost their leaves. This is the time of year I can see some of the sky, though the evergreens still block some of the view.

The cedars and the firs stand tall and green on three sides of the house. There is a straight line of five cedars standing on the edge of my neighbors’ property. They were there when I arrived here almost forty years ago, and at that time there was a parallel row of five firs that marched along next to them on our side of the line.

The firs gave up and fell over years ago, probably because there was a drainage ditch that ran next to them, and eventually their roots could not hold on. So now the cedars stand alone. I was looking at them today, seeing how they have grown in almost forty years, broader in the trunk and taller in the sky.

Those trees have always been a mystery to me. It was clear that someone planted them on purpose in those two parallel lines a long time ago. Who, and why, and why in those lines and that place, are the mystery. I am pretty sure I will not find out the answers to those questions.

There is another cedar outside my bedroom window that was about seven feet tall, with spindly branches, when I came here in 1977. That tree is now about the size those cedars were then.

I especially love cedars, and I’m not sure why they seem so much more compelling to me – romantic, if you will – than the firs and hemlocks that also populate the forest. Those are perfectly good trees, some of them majestically tall, quietly doing their good work cleaning the air. But the cedars, with their flat fans of prehistoric-looking looking branches, hook me in somehow. Maybe it was that line from an Ian Tyson song, Summer Wages, that I sang long ago:
“Through the great fog bound straits where the cedars stand a-waitin’ …”

I learned the song about the time I moved up here, and I don’t know why. It is the song of a young man who loses his woman while he’s away working. Not exactly a natural choice for a woman singer/songwriter who was beginning to get uppity feminist ideas.

But the image of those cedars stuck with me, and I saw them here and up in Canada when I traveled there, and they surround me here at home.

What has that got to do with anything? I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve been awfully depressed and anxious lately, which is not unusual for me. There doesn’t have to be a reason. The trees seem to soothe and calm me. It was warm enough to sit on the kitchen porch and drink coffee this morning, and contemplate the sky and the trees.

Life seems so overwhelming sometimes. There’s my personal life, we won’t go into that today, and on top of that there’s the pass to which our country has come. Our new president seems to be declaring war on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and on Chicago.

Well, I heard he said he was going to send troops to Chicago, then said afterward he was “trying to open a dialogue.”
It makes me sad to think of the world in which my children and my grandchild live, and what’s to come. Not to mention my own fears about losing my Social Security and my Medicare. I don’t have much, and those two things are keeping me going. So, yeah, depression, anxiety, and a preference for the company of my dog and cedars.

The cat, now - he can go to hell. Just once I’d like to sleep through the night without him attacking my hands and arms like they’re his personal chew and claw toys.

In other news, spring is coming. Oh, it’s a little early to start dancing nude in the dell, but spring will come all the same. The crocuses, the crocosmia, the columbines, and of course the buttercups are all reaching for the sky. I love the foolhardiness of spring bulbs – every year they come up in January and I tell them, “Go back, it’s still cold,” but they persist and in a couple of months they’ll be blooming.

As usual, I shall follow their foolish example and persist, and maybe even, in time, bloom a little.