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The Hawk's Nest

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The Hawk's Nest

Garden of the golden tamarack

As the Tamaracks turn golden it is time for me to let go of outdoor activities and projects; see, I really don’t relish getting soaked to the bone. That doesn’t mean I’m not planning fall and winter outings of, say, colorful photography sessions of fall foliage along lakes or waterways with snow-capped peaks in the background. That will be fun. It’s the projects and routine jobs that I’m going to try to get away from. Still, when I am out for whatever reason this time of year, I get the sense of being in a garden as it goes into hibernation.

Gardening seems to be a three-season activity, but we don’t need to understand it very deeply to know that, even though the gardener may not be working the soil, pruning the plants and trees or mowing the grass, gardening continues through the winter—the fourth season—as well.

I’m not the kind of gardener who creates and maintains a manicured space for walking, sitting and reflection. I dream of that, but I’m not there yet. As a gardener, I would fall closer to the category of a forester. Most of forest we own is still rather natural, not parked out at all. Still, walking through it I get a feeling of a garden—and I should. It is the Garden of the Golden Tamaracks.

Pretty much the same thing is happening around our place in the forest as is happening in a garden. The abundance of the growing season has reached completion. Shedding has begun and the life fluids in the trees are moving inward and downward back to the earth.

All growth is preparing for hibernation and rest—renewal. Is there significance there for me? It appears a cycle in a spiral is completed but the message from nature is about the cycle. What appears to be death in the forest is transformation in lives.

With the shedding, needles, leaves and branches go back to the earth. The growth of these parts took much effort and was absolutely necessary for vibrant expression of the plant. Even after that investment, the growth—at this point in the cycle—is now old and must be shed if the plant is to rest, renew, and thrive next year.

I seem to be getting a sense that nature, in working her cycles, is trying to tell me something. I wonder if it is about all that stuff I worked so hard to acquire. I think I’ll keep moving it and working around it, and creating new space for it while sometimes cussing it, but shed it? Naw.

And that’s just the physical stuff. Of course this is just a hypothetical question, but what if there were attitudes, grievances or unnecessary old ideas floating around in my psyche? Continuing with the hypothetical of course, should I shed this old baggage even after all the investments of cultivated thought and worry I have into it?

It’s a good thing this is just an imaginary consideration, ‘cuz I’m getting a little uncomfortable right now.

Let’s go back to the comfort of the forest. What are the trees doing as they shed? It appears they are giving back to the earth. When we leave it alone, all those needles, leaves and branches become next year’s mulch for the forest floor. That’s a neat thought and they make fun crackling sounds under feet as we walk around. There is a pleasant musty aroma as the decaying process begins. Moreover, we know, next year the forest will flourish because of this giving back.

So is this a lesson for me too? I can dance around with the idea of shedding but now this giving back thought comes along. Back to the hypothetical—if I gave back some of the abundance I have worked so hard for, will I be better for it? Will others, even the whole planet, be better for it? Like the forest benefits from all the trees giving back, will giving back have a universal gain?

Following the logic of the trees shedding and giving back, I notice a lot of them are a lot older then me; okay that is a bit convincing. There are people who say they are even grander than me, too. Okay, so it does seem to be working pretty well in the woods. 

I don’t know, this is getting kind of personal; maybe I don’t want to take lessons from the woods. On the other hand, maybe my sense of wanting to rest is a part of the cycle including shedding and giving back.

It appears a walk in the Garden of the Golden Tamarack has given me fodder to contemplate the seasons, as the spiral of the cycles continues.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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