Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | August 1, 2011

From the Dept. of So, This Happened :

Spent the day with MJL weeding and mulching a pleasant suburban garden. We knocked off to eat our lunch in lawn chairs in the shade of a large Scotch pine. We were chatting away in a desultory manner over our sandwiches when something landed on my right shoulder. Thinking it was a large bug, I swept it away in disgust. Bent over to check it out and saw it was only a piece of bark from the pine tree above. Closer examination revealed many tiny heart shapes of delicate bark peeling away from the whole, etched deeply into the 3″ long, 1″ wide piece of dry bark. It looked like just one more piece of the puzzle that makes a tree. Not a freak occurrence, just a perfectly matter-of-fact section of a naturally occurring phenomenon.

To my friend I remarked, “Jeez, I look at lots of trees. I go into Evergreen all the time now just to visit certain specific soulful trees, the way I visit friends, and I am always looking for hearts, of course, and all this time I never noticed that the bark is an example of heart shaped scales, overlapping fractals which make up the skin of the tree.” M, who has a horticulture degree and has worked with plants for many many years, said “Huh. Me neither.”

After finishing our lunch we got up to take a closer look at the tree’s bark. The branch above where I had been sitting had a deep wound scabbed with pitch. Clearly many pieces of bark had fallen from there. With our faces inches from the tree we searched for a similar pattern of hearts in the bark and found none. There was NO OTHER section of the tree that had that same bark formation. The piece that landed on my shoulder was the only evidence of hearts anywhere around.
Some days these discoveries of hearts, the random things I stumble upon make me feel crazy and disjointed, as if I am grasping at straws and imagining these feelings of comfort and connection. All day today I felt sane and centered and whole. Sad. Wistful. A bit fragile. But walking in beauty and wonder.



  1. also from the dept. of Too Precise to be Random.


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