I have observed that life is so multi-dimensional and infinitely variable, that it resists counting. Humans make great efforts to categorize and quantify it, but each benchmark inevitably opens new mysteries. Answers lead to questions far more often than questions lead to answers. But on this occasion, i was actually able to count life and the answer was 99 (+- 5).
I love to think of how this tree gave of itself in those 99 years. Its young and tender leaves probably served as food for deer and other animals and as it matured, gave nuts of some kind for the squirrels. Each season it fed life back into the soil through it’s leaves after they were done providing shade to animals and humans from the summer heat. It provided oxygen for the living and drank in our carbon dioxide waste. If provided safety for birds to nest: a home for their young away from predators. It may have even provided a home for woodpeckers later in its life: a condorminium of sorts. And after this long life of complex simplicity, I like to think that it gave itself to keep a family warm in the winter. These are the practical, more measurable 3rd dimensional gifts it gave to the circle of life, but it also gave things to the 4th dimension: an elegant beauty connecting Mother Earth to Father Sky, and a calendar of growth for wanderers like me to ponder.
This calendar shows lots of wet years, with widely spaced rings, but also some dry years as a youngling, with small rings. The momentary details of this trees life can only be guessed at, but what it represents in all of its facets is worthy of the highest gratitude. I thought of Shell Silversteen’s The Giving Tree here, and so I sat and gave thanks for the remnants of this being whose daily life I can only guess. I do know its giving was monumental and so aspire to give a similar quantity and quality of what this tree gave in its life effortlessly and without complaint.