I am studying a tree.
I don't think it had a name.
I gave it one.
It is the Rush Baptist Tree.
I have been taking pictures of my tree for almost a year now, in differing lights and seasons. Why? I have no idea except that this lone tree atop Rush Ridge speaks to me. Maybe it's because it sits atop the ridge, silhoutted against the sky and surrounded by 200 year old tombstones that murmur of times gone by in a differing era of rural life. Off to the side sits the quintessential little red country church, that still holds services rain or shine or snow or bitter cold and that all the local old farming families still attend.
Perhaps it is that this stately tree reminds me so much of the tree of life. Symbolic in so many ways to Christ, of life and the life cycle. Perhaps it is that I feel God's presence here among the residents of the cemetery whom the tree seems to watch and preside over, like a preacher to his congregation on a sunny Sunday morn.
Whatever the fascination, I love my tree. And I'll continue to photograph him in case that day comes that through the ravages of time he is no longer there to comfort me, or his other patrons. You must admit, trees like this are so regal and are symbolic of so much in life.
The gnarled bare branches heading into winter reminded me, of all things, my grandmother's hands. They were bare and gnarled in her elder years, but had accomplished much. They were the hands of an amazing dynamo of a tiny woman who gardened, sewed, canned and loved.
Yesterday, as I visited my parents, I sat next to my mother. My mother was busy laying out goodies to eat (something we both love), and as she sat next to me with her hands resting upon the table, I noticed that her hands were starting to look like my grandmother's. The arthritis that has made the joints larger, the finer skin, the callouses from being a ranch woman and working outdoors so much. Beautiful hands that cook the yummiest things and create the most beautiful pictures of animals and scenes in pastels, and that can write comforting words of counseling and wisdom and just pure beauty to a soul.
I then looked to my own hands, hands starting to show the midlife age wear and tear with a little arthritis starting, callouses, finer skin etc, just like my mom's. And I thought to myself that I have a preview here, and that if I'm lucky, one day, my hands will be as beautiful as my mother's and my grandmother's. Just like my bare winter tree, with it's gnarled and bare but ever so strong and comforting branches encompassing its silent congregation on the ridge.