September 23, 2008 by esarsea
My maternal grandfather was an outdoorsman and a nature lover. He maintained his 10 acre parcel of land as if it were a state park. Vegetable gardens, rose gardens, oak trees raised from acorns, fruit trees, experimental graftings and acres of hand-mowed lawns. In the peak of the lawn growing season, by the time my grandfather finished mowing (a task that took several days) it literally was time to start over again.
It was a full time labor of love. An early riser, my grandfather would eat breakfast and then go to work in the yard. He’d come in for lunch (typically soup with crackers and cheese) and then go back out to work in the yard – often until dusk. He was a strong yet gentle person, a former ivy-league wrestler and retired career military man. He loved hiking through the Olympic Mountains with his homemade backpack, carrying only a few essentials and a sleeping bag.
One evening my grandfather and I were sititng in silence, listening the the crackle and hiss of the fireplace and watching the flames curl and dance about. My grandfather, never taking his eyes off the fire, verbally mused: “The logs burning in the fireplace came from a tree that spent many years absorbing the heat and light of the sun. Now the tree is giving us back that same heat and light it collected and stored all those years.”
Although that was 35-40 years ago, I’ve never forgotten that moment. It wasn’t until later in life however that I began to appreciate the depth of his statement. It’s a methphor for many things in life – if not life itself.