Life is completely unpredictable – and that’s OK
On our wedding anniversary this summer, Bill and I began a tradition of planting a tree on our island in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota.
In August you will always find us there, living among the towering pines of our enchanted forest, overlooking the crystal clear lake of Bill’s childhood.
At night, we hear the resident wolf pack howling at the rising moon and bald eagles pluck shining lake trout from the deep, cold waters.
In previous years, we planted bushes of hydrangea that bloom in fluffy globes of snow white blossoms.
But this summer, we decided to plant a wild mountain ash tree to honour my father, who loved them so when I was a little girl in Siberia.
When we came to the Ely Flower & Seed Store to buy it, we were puzzled by the lack of flowers for sale. No stargazer lilies, no rows of black-eyed Susans, only slender green stalks. The owner scratched his head and apologised.
“A young moose wandered in here during the night and ate them all. I saw him leaving as the sun came up. I wanted to be mad, but he was so darn cute, I just waved my hat at him, and he walked away.”
We found our wild ash near by with a narrow trunk about eight feet tall.
Bill managed to get it into our truck, across the lake in our boat, and up the steep hill to our cabin. I put on a red dress the same colour as the bright berries on the tree.
We found a spot where I exercise early each morning, and Bill and his son, Nick, shovelled out a hole.
I wrestled with the trunk until it stood straight and tall. Hummingbirds hovered in the still air near the blossoms in a mesmerising ballet.
I became lost in a memory from three summers past.
We were driving into town from the lake to a lawyer’s home where our wedding ceremony would take place that sunny afternoon.
With a sideways glance, I saw a tall mountain ash tree on the side of the country road.
“Stop the car!” I shouted to Bill, who had the windows open. He pulled over immediately, a bit apprehensive about this change of plans.
I pointed at a tree and ran towards the forest. Bill jumped out and raced after me.
“It’s my father’s favourite tree! I want to be married holding a bouquet of these red flowers in memory of him!”
I saw the relief in Bill’s face and laughed.
I picked a brilliant red and green bunch. Holding them close, we continued to the little clapboard house where the lawyer lived.
His golden retriever burst out of the doorway wagging his tail, and jumped up to lick my face. I held the flowers high.
Life is completely unpredictable. Sometimes it knocks you to the ground, but many times it gives you the most beautiful gifts.
I hope to plant many more of these magnificent trees with their bursts of red flowers so welcome among this vast forest of green.
I believe that from this fragile sapling we planted, a strong and tenacious tree will grow.
It will stand tall under the onslaught of strong storm winds and will not freeze in the fierce winter frost.
We were told it has very strong roots and will live for 400 years. In planting our tree, we will leave our spirit on this island for generations.
And, I know that one warm autumn day, I will make my first mountain ash jam which my father loved so well.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com
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