Since my wife is away visiting family, I have taken time to
explore some new hiking trails. This day my selection is
a grove of old growth western red cedars.
The walk to the grove is through a field abloom. Showy
scarlet Indian Paintbrush mingle with white daisy-like
flowers. In fact there are a dozen or more varieties of
plants blooming in various hues. It is a picture you would
see on a post-card, but here it is in real life.
The old, tall trees are not far up the gently sloping hillside.
As I walk up the trail into the 80 acre grove, a tree 20 feet
off the path catches my eye.
I move slightly to get a different view and realize that there
are actually two trees. The larger of the two cedars is as
big around as a large refrigerator, but taller than two bus
lengths. Immediately beside it is a smaller tree, perhaps
two-thirds the girth of the bigger tree. The trees have
distinctly different root systems, but rise vertically from
the forest floor side by side. For the first eight or ten feet
of their height there is no space between them, and then
an inch or two for twenty feet, and then none for another
twenty feet, where again they stand apart ever so slightly.
About 20 feet above eye level, the larger tree has a branch
that loops out from its trunk, and then divides into two
smaller parts. The first part of the branch follows the
curve of the smaller tree's trunk in a wooden hug. The
second fork of the branch subdivides several more times,
and mingles with a branch from the smaller tree, becoming
visually indistinct, like fingers laced together when two
lovers hold hands.
I mentally label the trees 'The Lovers.' I would guess
they have been in that embrace for more than a century,
and have stood side by side since before the United
States was a nation.
Immediately my mind shifts to my wife on the other side
of these United States of America. She had to change
travel plans, and will be away yet another week. It is
amazing how much I miss her, and I wish she was here
with me at this moment. She will return the day after
I contemplate our relationship. I am the luckiest man
alive, let me assure you. I have been fortunate enough
to be formed, to stand side by side, to embrace and
hold hands with this woman for thirty years. We will
not make three centuries, as the old lovers in the forest
have, but each day with her in my life is a blessing.
I will return to this spot one day soon, wife by my side,
and I will stop in front of 'The Lovers.' I will put one arm
around her, hold her hand with the other, and show her
the two old trees and say, "this is you and I, my love."