Outside the Canopy

Earlier this summer, two young squirrels built a nest in a tree just outside my second-story office window. Every day I watched them climb, wrestle, canoodle, and generally monkey around, as I supposed, young squirrels do. I looked for them. A coworker brought binoculars to gain a closer view. Occasionally, one of them would settle out on the edge of the springy pine branch I though of as their balcony.

One afternoon I corner-eyed a peripheral glance of a hawk swooping past.

At home, when I first moved in, three century-old trees in back provided shelter and shade beneath their dense canopy. Either age or sickness, or both, overwhelmed two of these giants years ago. They were removed. Somewhat expected, I anticipated their loss and was relieved yet by the one tree still standing.

Last week a storm whipped through, felling a good portion of this tree. Shortly after, workers arrived and saw-whipped away the remaining half. Now there’s a giant sky (and sun)-filled vacancy behind the house. Even the front of the house feels empty.

We feel this loss. And these are small losses—what then with big grief?

Habitually, I hold fast wherever I am, braced against the pain of the unavoidable.  Effective? Not a bit. Side effect: Stuck. Every which way I am stuck. Right now, I am stuck (painful 200 words!).

Being stuck, I have begun to realize, is uncomfortable. Stuckness carries along its own variety of pain that grows ever more burdensome over time. Besides, it gets boring stuck here. perhaps it’s time to venture out from beneath the canopy.

The squirrel pair did. And whether the hawk got its dinner, or not, they’ve moved on.