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Love Notes

A Tree that Inspires Faith

Bill and I started a tradition shortly after moving to our Selle Lovestead in 2006. Our ritual focuses on a large, unique, double-forked Lodgepole pine tree situated in an open space in our far pasture.  

I call this magnificent monument of wood and greenery  “The God Tree.”

Bill calls our tradition the “Lodgepole Society.” He bought a yellow, waterproof field-notes book to use as the official log for society induction and membership. He also built a wooden stand just in front of the tree and topped it with a box where the book and occasional mementos given by inductees reside within.

Nearly every time visitors come to the Lovestead for the first time, if it’s convenient,  we invite them to join the Society. The ceremony involves walking or riding in the 4-wheeler through the woods and across fields as part of our farm’s grand tour.  

We point out the series of lush horse pastures, Bill’s thinning, marking and tree-planting projects in his first-ever forest, the bridge Bill constructed across a swale near our Western border, the “Black Forest,” as one visitor termed it, and the graves within the Lodgepole pasture where beloved pets lie for eternity.

Once at the tree, Bill, the forester, reads the official introduction to induction to the Society.

“Membership into ‘The Lodgepole Society,’ with all privileges therein, is hereby granted to all who stand underneath this unique Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta). Enjoy your visit and marvel at this truly unique specimen. Marianne and Bill Love, C.F., Stewards of the Lodgepole. July 1, 2006.”

If I happen to be there, I often read the first entry:  July 2, 2006:  A warm Sunday morning. We spent the first night in our new home, most of us anyway.I behold this giant tree, and simply say, ‘Thank you, God, for providing us this beautiful spot to live for the rest of our lives. From this day forth, this is the ‘God’ Tree.”

We look upon the Lodgepole pasture as a sanctuary of serenity, beauty, and reverence. The tree itself inspires faith, appreciation for life and the best spirits within ourselves and within the people visiting. To me, it also serves as a year-long Christmas tree because its presence and splendor embodies so much of what we feel is important on this earth.

We started using the second logbook a couple of months ago, after the first volume was filled with poignant reminders and cherished memories. Sometimes inductees simply sign their names. A few have left humorous comments. Sometimes the entries reflect emotions straight from the heart.

As my personal message for the upcoming Christmas season, I’d like to share a few thoughts from our first Lodgepole log book.

“How closer to God and thee lie... the place and soul filling.”  Cis and Ken Gors, July, 2006.

“May this God Tree continue to stand as a sentinel over the Lovestead for years to come!  Love, Margaret” (Cowen of Sacramento, Bill’s twin, September, 2006)

“It was Grace’s first day of school and my first visit to the Lovestead. Can a day get any better? What a beautiful place, especially the God Tree! Thanks for sharing.” Jenny Jacobson Meyer, 9/07/06.

 “Thank you, Marianne, for the tour.The Lovestead is exquisite, and the tree is a worthy centerpiece. Enjoy!” Mindy (Cameron), March 29, 2007.

“Earth Day, 2007, April 22. What a perfect activity for this special day! We are glad that this special property is under your stewardship.”  Skip and Helen Newton

“Dear Lodgepole, please don’t reproduce!” Chris Schneff, June 8, 2007.

“This place is peace on earth... I even slept with the dog, Kiwi.” Patti Skelton McGougan, June 10, 2007.

“Marianne and Bill, thank you for such a memorable day in Bonner County! Between the Fair and your amazing home, I had a fantastic time.Keep up with the handsome horses and the books!” Rich Benjamin, New York City, Aug. 22, 2007.

“Wonders of nature in the backyard. It’s all most of us can hope for. Thanks for sharing.” Sarah Aavedal, 12/16/07.

“We left a tip for Marianne, our tour guide. What a special place this is! It truly is a ‘God Tree,’ and we are so glad you both get to be the caretakers for the rest of us so we can all enjoy it.” Becky Reynolds, May 12, 2008

“This is a grate [sic] tree.”  [Who else but] Boots Reynolds, May 12, 2008

“Our inaugural visit to the God Tree and the return of a gift to a friend. We are so blessed.” Angela and Cameron Miller. Linda Warren (Grammy), June 12, 2008.

“I love this beautiful place. Jimmy is here with us today. Thank you.” Beth Bruce, July 25, 2008.

“Thank you so much for sharing this with us. We bring Jimmy with us.” Heather Brown. July 25, 2008.

“Thank you for sharing all your beauty.” Ann and Ed Kritzeck, July 27, 2008.

After Ann and Ed’s visit, Bill placed Volume II of the Lodgepole log in the box. Their visit, however, prompted some unsettling moments under the God Tree.

I had just begun to tell Ann about the guardian angel medallion left with the logbook a few weeks before by Angela Warren Miller. Upon opening the box, I sorted through the items left by visitors, including a photo, some dollar bills and a couple of coins.  

The small, silver medallion was missing! I was dumbfounded and unable to utter a lucid thought to my guest.

Jenny Jacobson Meyer had given that medallion to Angela after their high school graduation in 1992. Angela had carried it with her all those years, including to Jenny’s funeral in June, where she held it in her hand. She had initially planned to leave it with Jenny but decided the guardian angel would be more appropriate at the God Tree, which her dear friend had visited on a special milestone during her eight-year battle with cancer.

The precious medallion was gone. So much for stewardship, I thought.

For three days afterward, I returned to the tree, got down on my hands and knees and carefully worked my fingers through the weeds, twigs, dirt and tall grass around its base. I even took the metal detector a couple of times but to no avail.

I could hardly sleep at night, consumed with desperation about losing something so meaningful. Some day I would have to tell Angela, but I still clung to the hope that it might reappear.

On the fourth day, I again took the metal detector. Holding it over a mound of dirt created by a gopher days before, I heard the most welcome “Beep.” Throwing the tool aside, I knelt down and carefully lifted cupfuls of dirt from the mound.

Suddenly, something shiny, something silver appeared. The missing medallion! I rubbed off the dirt, jumped for joy beneath the God tree and ran to the house to prepare a special container for the medallion so it could not disappear again.

I don’t know why or how that medallion disappeared. I also don’t know why I couldn’t find it in the same pile of dirt, I had sifted through each preceding day. My only thought is that the guardian angel medallion had work to do elsewhere. When the work was done, the keepsake of faith miraculously reappeared.

God works in wondrous ways, as do the magnificent trees that only He can create. Merry Christmas to all, especially to the members of the Lodgepole Society who have brought us so much joy.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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