There is a tree that grows along a shady path, just beyond the seashore at Mary’s Point.
This tree has certainly withstood the storms of many seasons but, somehow, has been afforded enough protection to grow sturdy and tall, its trunk straight, its shady boughs reaching out to shelter and protect all that surrounds it.
From the base of this mighty hemlock, surely springing from the very same place, grows a white birch; its bark clean and pure, catching the sunlight that drifts down to this shady space. Its branches spread wide and brilliant, reaching ever outward; naked in this winter of its life, yet the birch remains stunning in size, simplicity and beauty.
Together, they have grown, one supporting the other, their very roots sprawling wide, intertwined and knotted below the surface. So supported by such strength, the birch, perhaps, has spread its limbs much wider than it might have alone.
I found this odd pairing of trees while walking the path with my friend, Gwen. We had just been to visit naturalists Mary Majka and David Christie, to offer our condolences on the recent loss of Dr. Mike (Mietek), Mary's husband of 59 years. At 84, Mary is still somewhat of an enigmatic force of nature - a flamboyant storyteller and activist who, for 40 years, has flung herself into nature and heritage protection. Her life's mission has been to encourage others to understand their place in the landscape as caretakers and her influence has spread far and wide. Her husband, the quiet and steady Dr. Mike, was always in the background, strong and supportive.
Upon leaving the house, Gwen and I decided to walk the path from the house to the shore. A pair of partridge flew upward from their hiding place in the bushes, and two rabbits, part brown, part white, scampered in opposite directions, for cover.
The beach and marsh glowed in the sinking sun and the sea salt dusted away our melancholy mood. We walked in silence, watching the waves, stopping to inspect copper leaves, streams of baby clamshells, or polished beach glass in the sand. Just appreciating a friendship that needs no words. It was upon our return, in the shelter of the path once more, that we found the trees.
The two of us walked around the pair, almost in reverence, touching the bark, tracing the lines and groves in wonder. We each caught the other’s eyes, knowing we shared a single, identical thought.
Here, on this day, tucked away in this quiet place, two trees lived - in tandem to the lives lived on the bluff above. Here, on this day, tucked away in this quiet place, two friends saw and understood, without a word, there was deep meaning in this.
How wondrous is that?