If you have spent much time in the woods, you may have heard the interesting sounds of trees hitting each other...living, moving, bumping, co-exhisting. In the woods where I most frequent, I can often recognize exactly which ones are "talking" by their particular, individual sounds and patterns. Some are very loud, expressing themselves only when the winds are high. I imagine they are excited about the wind, rather than worried, having an opportunity to play with those who grow beside them, like two siblings punching each other for no reason other than fun. Others have smaller, much more intimate voices that go almost unheard, like the voices from this holly and its partner for life in the photo above. I imagine these two trees as a wonderful old, odd couple who are still very much in love, despite the irritation they may cause each other. They are committed. Committed for life.
Yesterday, I walked the woods in southern Rhode Island as I have so many times before, but after three major winter storms within three weeks, things were different. There were new voices. Lots of new voices! So many bent and downed trees. So much rearranging. So many new relationships being discovered. Nature often seems to change slowly, but this month, nature moved with dramatic energy and the trees were now having to adjust to the new relationships in which they found themselves. And they were doing it with loud, unedited, clumsy conversations. What a great thing to be able to hear!
As I walked, I was keenly aware of my silence and the fact that I would finish my stroll, get in my car, and drive away. My feet do not stay in one place like the trees who live their lives in one particular spot. I can uproot myself without the wind. My relationships are more vulnerable to change. I can walk away.
But I do have relationships to tend to. Relationships I cherish. With some, I have to wait for unexpected wind. Others are easy like a calm and reassuring breeze. Finishing my walk, I think about the unforeseen "storms" or circumstances in our lives a little differently. They often rearrange relationships, bring new ones, require patience, cultivate empathy, or inspire compassion. And I am extra thankful for the love and friendships that effortlessly carry on like gentle breezes.
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