I like to believe that I receive messages from Nature. You know, like Florida’s Native Americans did? They paid attention to their natural environment. They were an extension of it. This helped them survive and adapt, giving them an edge when it came to Mother Nature and Humankind’s periodic wrath.
I remember reading a chapter in Patrick Smith’s “A Land Remembered;” it only dawned on the pioneers that a hurricane was coming when they noticed the Indians moving to higher ground.
I feel that this week, I too, was given a sign.
Last week, on August 20th, the first day of “early voting,” I visited my parents at my childhood home in beautiful Sewall’s Point. My mom, being mom, recommended I go outside and lie under her favorite ancient oak tree and just soak in the beauty of it all.
She knew I had been stressed lately running my campaign for the river and for Martin County’s quality of life.
She handed me a banana and I went outside on the deck under our giant oak tree.
—The deck of all the family outings, the deck that used to be a swimming pool before my mother filled it in, the deck of running grandchildren, the deck of Thanksgiving and of Easter. The deck of memories.
It was a gorgeous day so I took some pictures and rested in a reclining chair right under the amazing tree. It’s branches reached the ground enclosing me an a giant embrace. Sunlight danced from leaf to leaf and reflected in the wings of dragonflies. Woodpeckers and squirrels darted from branch to branch tending to their babies. I noticed how the old tree was intertwined with numerous equally old stick-like cabbage palms. I thought about how many had walked under the oak’s branches: the Native People, the Pirates, the Spanish, the Pioneers –different animals–and now me.
How long had it been alive? Maybe 250 years?
Seven days later, I received a text from my sister, Jenny, who lives next door to my parents. “I have some bad news. Mom and Dad’s giant oak tree split in half….everyone is OK, but the back yard is a mess. One side is still standing.”
So the following day I went to look at the damage. It was dramatic but it looked so strong we thought the other half might endure. An arborist said it was possible.
And then, on August 31st, the day after losing the election, its remains came crashing down…
Yesterday, I visited walking around taking pictures.
No one was home. Just me and the tree. The tree I watched grow from my bedroom window and saw reflected in the mirror every time I assessed myself. I was assessing myself now, but there was no reflection.
I moved about with care and disbelief. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I put my hand on the tree’s gigantic fallen limb. No birds chirped. No crickets called. All I could muster to say was “thank you.”
I walked away, saddened and empty.
Then it dawned on me, I’d missed something. A message. I turned around; I looked over the pile of destruction. And then I saw it, green and full of life, the resurrection fern.
I moved against the tree’s wet branches: “Yes, I said….”Through water, we are reborn.”