Yesterday, after a trip to Walgreens for our latest Covid boosters, Tom and I enjoyed thirty minutes walking through Vista del Camino Park in south Scottsdale.
It’s one of many washes and greenspaces that run north and south, connecting walkways and bike paths throughout our community.
After parking our 2012 indigo Hyundai Sonata–our same faithful friend that carried us west from Illinois in July 2017 after I suffered a mild heart attack–we followed the path.
We smiled as ducks paddled through a meandering creek. It is adorned with a wild splash of lavender lilies that climb the bank in one small section.
We waved to a few disc golfers, and watched a few others wade through murky water to fish out errant throws.
We admired a thicket of tall reeds, flourishing near the northern edge of the park thanks to our wetter-than-normal winter.
But the highlight came as we made our way back to the car. We paused under this enormous eucalyptus tree. It’s one of our favorite Scottsdale nature spots–a place we have visited many times over the past nearly six years.
I was compelled to capture the strength and shade of the tree, because I wanted to savor the memory and carry it home.
In that moment, I also realized I needed to write about the tree–its enduring status–and what it represents on the fifth anniversary of my blogging adventure.
Back on May 4, 2018, when I wrote my first blog post, I was looking for a way to carve my initials into the blogosphere. (Incidentally, I never considered carving my initials into the trunk of this beautiful tree. Sadly, over the decades, vandals have had different ideas. Whatever happened to the notion of respecting property and nature?)
Anyway, through my books and blog, it has been my goal to leave a trail of my thoughts and observations for anyone who might want to follow the late-in-life stories of a sixty-five-year-old heart-attack survivor living a warmer, lighter, and gayer existence in the Sonoran Desert with his husband.
This odyssey has helped me connect with all sorts of people all around the world. To voice my opinions. To learn more about yours. And, to frequently step back to marvel at the beauty of nature in Arizona and how I desperately need it.
Perhaps most important of all, blogging has helped me stay sane, vital, and relevant. We’ve all had to look for ways to navigate a raging pandemic and try to come out the other side as relatively whole human beings.
Last night, Tom and I watched a program about Gordon Lightfoot, the prolific Canadian singer and songwriter who died recently. In one particular clip, he talked about the salvation his music provided–allowing him to work out his emotions (perhaps, his demons) through song.
My writing serves that same purpose. On my saddest, most anxious, happiest, and most triumphant days–all of it–writing down my ideas and preparing them into something artful and reasonably coherent helps me make sense of the idiosyncrasies and madness in the world. In other words, my writing helps me rise above the fray … and we all know there is plenty of fray today.
It helps me feel less afraid about a whole host of things … growing older in a more vulnerable and less safe society … seeing previously recognizable American institutions (like truth, honor, and decency) vanish … cringing as my favorite baseball team from the sepia-tone recollections of my 1960s childhood (the St. Louis Cardinals) coughs up another game and sinks further into the abyss of last place (something they have seldom seen in their rich history) … and shedding a few more tears to say goodbye to old friends and Polynesian Paradise neighbors. (Another of our desert-loving flock, Bill, died yesterday after a hard-fought battle.)
While all of this happens around me and is out of my control, I feel as if I am like the eucalyptus tree in Vista del Camino Park. Despite the increasing number of wrinkles and imperfections on my skin, I’m still strong enough to smear ointments on the rough patches and move ahead along this path I might have missed. To live, love, sing, swim, and survive. To write more poems and tell more stories.
Specifically, along the banks of whatever may come next, I’ll continue to strive to produce some degree of shade for the ones I love: my husband, my sons, my friends, my neighbors, and my followers.
Thank you for joining me on this journey.
2 thoughts on “Strength and Shade”
A wonderful piece! A nice way to mark the beginning of your blog’s sixth year.
I love the metaphor of the eucalyptus tree. No matter how things have changed, and the physical and emotional scars endured, we’re still standing!
Dont ever stop writing.
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Yes, we are, and hopefully for a long time! Thank you for your unending encouragement!