Tuesday, September 13, 2016

We're pine trees today

It's cool to be shiny, right? And it was that bright
out, I'm pretty sure. I've had that hat for like, a
bunch of years. Why don't I have a new hat?
This is me today. It's not the best picture of me at all. I'm hot. And shiny. I had to fudge with the retouch tool to hide my bra strap (it bugged me beyond belief). I'm wearing my dark glasses, no make up, and the sweat from the long hike and the bright sun makes me look, well, like I'm relaxing on a stone bench on a hot day, which I was. Except it wasn't super hot out when we started. It was a cool September day that only became hot after an hour or so of uphill. But I think this photo reflects who I am better than some of the photos where I look waaaaay better, less shiny, and my features are shown off at a better angle.

It's just I see this photo and it feels like me. I'm wearing the hat and sunglasses I wear so much on runs and hikes. I'm a victim of the Colorado sun, wind, and constant pull of the outdoors. And I look as content as I feel. (Until about ten minutes later, when we were all off the trail completely, going uphill when we should have gone downhill, and I was thinking simultaneously about falling, and also how this particular trail was a great setting for the novel I've got in the hopper, while complaining at my friends I was pretty damn sure this wasn't the right way to go...)

It's September, and weather is slowly shifting into fall weather, my favorite season, my favorite weather. It's cooler in the morning and cooler in the evening, but mostly, short sleeves and shorts weather in the afternoon. Except today, which was rainy and cold all day.

This year, my life has been transitioning in time to the season. I love it when that happens, when changes in life happen with the changes of the season. I've transitioned through the hot summer months into a not-working-at-home job with the county that I'm loving so far. My sons have transitioned into another school year. My daughter is continuing her slow, ever-so-slow transition into adult-hood, working two jobs, much to her dismay (it's hard to get a full time retail gig nowadays). My husband is transitioning into a period where he's rethinking his role and what he wants to do for the next 20 years.

All in all, it's a gentle period of change, not like some of the more abrupt ones my family has experienced in our many years of existence as a unit. If my mother were alive today, I'd ask her, couldn't there be a chart for families, just as there are businesses? Ours would be one of constant changes: harsh, slow, big, small, abrupt, frustrating, scary, anxiety-producing, wonderful, confusing, and so on. I think we are a family in constant motion, constantly adapting and shifting to unpredictable circumstances so much so that we accept that as our norm, while looking for ways to thrive through it all. We'd be the Vikings that left bitter, cold, and beautiful lands for greener, more temperate pastures in new lands. (Well, we'd be the vikings still looking...but you know the story ends well)

And I thought about it some more. Not the chart. I'm sure my mother would have said yes, and then I'd have bugged her until she did a family chart for us. I've been thinking about the transitions and changes we've gone through over the past years, and how frequent they have been, and difficult. Oh, I know we're not the only ones. But, this is my blog, so, you get my life.

His roots are all Colorado. I see how the mountains
and trails and creeks already have taken root in my
boys and in how much they value nature, the
environment, big skies, big mountains, and long
sunny summer days with shorter sunny winter ones.
Growth never comes from staying the same. The roots that form a tree grow into something other than the roots under the ground, though it's the source of their growth. They tower, spread out branches, sprout leaves, produce fruit, and white fluffy stuff  if the tree is a poplar in my grove. The trees that grow out here, a bit higher up, the Ponderosa Pines, are shaped by the terrain and climate around them. There are some that grow around rocks. That grow almost sideways. They can't grow the way they are expected. But they grow anyhow. They adapt to the changes. They are still trees. They are just not the tree they, or anyone else expected. They are therefore unique. And they stand out - defiant, cocky little pines they are. Sometimes, they grow so large you can't see the obstacles they've grown around or through. They absorb it. Growth comes from change. Greatness, I expect, comes from great growth.

I don't think that analogy does what I'm trying to say justice, but I'm stuck on the tree thing now so lets work through it.

I know my roots. Somewhere on the East Coast in a poor little mill town that grew into a poor mill city born of and filled with immigrants that I can trace back to.  My family isn't a family made of founding members, but of the teeming masses looking for a better life. And from those roots, that life, my childhood, those lessons and values, of course, often without knowing it, I have navigated life. And my life has had many changes and challenges, many transitions, and through each one, I have grown. As has my husband has, and my children still are. If life is meant to be filled with experiences, good, difficult, bad, sad, hard, happy, fun etc., we're doing it right. Like a tree that grows around its obstacles, that changes to thrive, well, that pretty much could be my family's motto: We grow, we change, we thrive.

We make a nice family of Ponderosa Pine. We're the ones hanging on the edge of the mountain, growing around rocks, acting like it isn't a big thing at all. And maybe one day, through this change, and constant growth, there will be greatness. Even if it's only a personal greatness, meaningless to the world, even if in the end we look just like another tall great pine, indistinguishable except to those who know to look closer to the roots and through the years.