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The Tree

Oct 23, 2023

A big ol' maple tree sits at the far back left of my lot and cascades over the adjoining backyards of my neighbours.

When we first moved in, it was the dead of Winter, and the naked tree looked gnarled and ghostly and immediately reminded me of The Nick Cave song 'Skeleton Tree.'
"Well, that thing'll have to come down in the Spring," I thought.

But then Spring came, and much to my surprise, buds started to form over the entire canopy, and I realized that only a small portion of the trunk was actually dead. With closer inspection, it appeared that the tree's deadened part had been hobbled to allow for healthy regrowth, likely saving its life. So, the decision to cut it down was moot.

I have spent many seasons at the base of that grand tree. It shades my family in the Spring and Summer months and offers a quiet place for friends to come and gather.

A few Octobers ago, I was brought to my knees by the unexpected passing of my littlest brother. I still can't quite bring myself to speak of all the details surrounding the event, as much of me is still processing what went down that day. The smell of a Fall morning brings it all back in one autumnal gust of wind, and I find myself back in that place, almost like it happened yesterday. It doesn't escape me that this time of year is nature's Season of loss, and I can't help but feel my grief most intensely when the leaves start to change. 

A few days after hearing the news of my brother, I found myself bundled up on my back porch, chatting with the wise old Maple Tree. The days were getting darker, and I knew the harshness of Winter was coming, and soon, the shock of it all would settle in and upon me. I remember watching my breath, as I spoke aloud to my Tree friend, "How on Earth am I supposed to grow around this?"

I am not alone. Devastatingly, every week, due to Fentanyl poisoning, I hear of another death affecting the family of a person I know. 
Every week. 
The Opioid Epidemic may not affect you directly, but certainly, it has touched someone you know as well. 

If I have learned anything from this tragedy in my life, it is to try and have more compassion, gain more understanding, judge others less, keep my ears and my heart and my arms open to those who may need it, to try and offer the kind of place where people feel supported and inspired and welcomed. Hold the ones you love close. We don't know when our Season of life will end.

The Tree
by Ambre McLean

Cold, down to the core
You know what comes next
You better bundle up
For the Fall
Yeah, it's gonna come down
Watch it drain from my limbs
It will cover the ground
I am stripped of half of
What you knew of me
I am naked as the day
I came to be.
To Be.

Don't let it go yet.
The Sun is still out
And hasn't kissed 
The Winter's lips
No, I won't
I won't ever forget
 It is deeply embedded
I will hold it close
And Grow around it

I will stand with my 
Back against the wind
I will wait until the 
Snow it turns to rain
I will stand with my 
Back against the wind
I will watch for a sign 
That it's time to bloom again

Cold, down to the bone
I know what comes next
I better bundle up.

Photo credit: Griffin Wooldridge

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