Friday, March 27, 2020

Tree Buds

We’re on our daily afternoon outing around the neighborhood. The older girls are on their scooters, and my son is on his red bike (no training wheels, and he is proud!). I could have chosen to ride my bike, but instead I walk/jog in a half-hearted attempt to keep up. The kids are trained to stop at each corner and wait for me, so I’m not worried about losing them. They’ve ridden this path so many times they think they own it. 



The children scoot/pedal quickly ahead, and I stop to look up at tree branches towering above me. The tree has been trimmed to give passage to the pedestrians on the sidewalk below, so those who walk or ride by on bikes and scooters won't be snagged by twigs. The air is chilly and the sky is gray with ominous clouds as I observe the spreading branches.  


At first glance, the tree appears dead. There are no big, green leaves, only an intricate pattern of dry sticks and twigs. But upon closer inspection, there are tiny green buds at the ends of the branches. Tiny sprouts of green illuminated by the dismal backdrop that I would have missed had I not stopped there to look up.



Ahead on their scooters, my children round the corner to our house, and I break into a jog to catch up. Once home, we shed shoes and jackets and the kids plop down at the kitchen table while I hand out lunches. I glance out the window at our own tree and notice its scraggly branches hanging down, dormant and bare and seemingly devoid of life.  







We've been sheltering in place for over a week now. Two Fridays ago my oldest daughter's school sent her home and closed their doors. My middle daughter, who I homeschool for first grade, was also given notice that the workshops and extracurriculars she usually attends are closed. My youngest has his preschool classes cancelled and his swim lessons suspended until further notice. Church is closed. My gym is closed. My weekly Bible study group is cancelled. My book club suspended. The parks and playgrounds are closed. This is happening all over the world. Closed. Cancelled. Closed.  


We have nothing to do and nowhere to go. 


Let me rephrase that. We have nothing we need to do. Nowhere we are supposed to be. No classes telling us to arrive at a certain place at a certain time. Everything on hold, frozen in place. We are living in isolation, hoping to weather out the current storm while praying for those who are affected by the virus and the shutdown of innumerable jobs. 

Honestly, we’ve settled into a pleasant rhythm at home. I turned off all alarm clocks (except my husband’s- he works in healthcare, so he still goes into his workplace every day), and wrote out checklists of chores and schoolwork and activities for the kids to accomplish every day. 

“Are we going anywhere today?” the kids have been asking. 

“Nope, everything is closed,” is my reply. 

“Okay,” they nod, accepting my answer.

We do schoolwork, listen to audiobooks. They pass crayons and markers back and forth across the table. I’m thankful for the peace, the absence of the hustle and bustle and the scramble to get out the door. I appreciate the lack of pressure from school and peers. 

The children giggle together, build hamster houses out of Legos, create forts, throw paper airplanes, have tea parties with their dolls, read books, bake and eat, play outside, and the list goes on. I’m discovering I make a great introvert. I have no need to speak to anyone, to attempt awkward small talk with other parents at various events, to worry about how to dress or what to bring to social gatherings. Instead, my energy is focused on my family, my house, my garden. I read and write and pray and rest and bake and cook and breathe.    

The tree in our backyard is straight and tall. The kids love to hug and climb its thick trunk. Each fall the leaves disappear, leaving behind bare branches and twigs. Sticks break off and fall to the ground, and the children greedily snatch them up, turning them into swords or flags. Every winter I stare at that tree and wonder if it’s finally given up, if anything will start to grow again. There are no leaves. No signs of buds. The bark looks extra dry and I wonder if this is the year I need to call an arborist to take it out.

But every year I’m taken by surprise when I finally begin to notice a leaf here, another leaf there, a tiny bud at the end of a branch I could have sworn was going to fall. Maybe, despite giving the appearance of dying, our tree was just relishing in the quiet, growing and nourishing itself internally before it could blossom again. Like the kids and I in our private, peaceful space. We’re weathering out this season in our own way, growing and nurturing each other quietly, until the season changes and we're able to burst forth.

Image Created by Phoenix Feathers Calligraphy, for Coffee + Crumbs,
2020


This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series "All Things New".

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