Years of change have formed a strong foundation for my life. I know in my heart that change often enriches my life yet it takes me a while to see the friend that change can be. Often a grieving process for the old holds me captive which blinds me to the new possibilities.
I found this to be the case for me a couple of years ago. Living on a farm in central New York I get to experience nature, animals and (as they say) God in the details. For me, there is no greater joy than to journey across our fields into the woods as my husband and our dog, Gretchen, walk beside me looking for things to explore. Gretchen might be chasing a leaf that is being tossed by the wind while David is scanning the hillsides for the big buck our neighbor told him lives there.
As I get closer to the woods, I can smell a tinge of mustiness where fallen leaves and old wood is decaying. This is nature at its best, a fertile breeding ground for new life. More than once we have come across a newborn fawn being still in the brush where her mom left her to be safe. We head off in the other direction so Gretchen won’t bother her.
Then one day it happened! My husband said, “This is the year we need to log our woods.”
I was heartsick at the thought of men with chainsaws ripping down our beloved trees. David had put this off for many years knowing how I felt, but it could no longer wait. It is good for the woods to be cleared so the trees that are left behind can get sun and air to grow strong. I knew all of this, yet as I watched log after log piled on top of the hill, then loaded on a huge log truck and driven out of our driveway, tears of grief ran down my face. I felt less than whole. Something I loved so much was changed. My beloved woods were being ravaged, never to be the same in my lifetime.
It took me a while to even go into the woods. I was grieving my loss. My husband knowing how I felt did everything he could to be sure the logging was done with as little destruction as possible. As we walked down the hill, my husband told me that he had added to the logging contract a clause that required them to build me a nice trail where the logs had been dragged out.
At first all I could see were the gaping holes where new trees were to grow. Nothing looked familiar. As I walked deeper into the woods I felt lost. I wasn’t seeing my normal navigational markers. I turned to my husband and asked, “Did our tree make it? Our tree
was an ancient huge beech where David proposed to me. He said, “I’ve been afraid to look,” so neither of us checked on it for a long while. When we were emotionally able to look for it we saw that it was cut down but not taken away due to its decay. It would not have survived another winter anyway.
That was almost two years ago now and what a difference today was as I walked over fields and into the woods with David and Gretchen. The great change has turned out to be such a blessing. I have trails all through the woods. We are able to walk all over with ease. The horses are able to feel more comfortable in the woods with the added open space and I don’t scrape my knees any longer on the braches as I ride. Along with us, my daughter and her friends enjoy the trails in the woods for snowshoeing.
We are using the woods even more than before and our beloved beech tree has turned out to be a home on the ground for animals to live and birth their young. I can’t think of a better use for this old tree that was once used for two lovers to make a lifelong commitment to each other. When I stopped being afraid and grieving, I found change to be my friend.
2009 Copyright by Judith Geiger