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Musings : 11 June 2021

I love Oak Trees.

I don’t know how I got there to be honest.

Here in the UK, people would instantly understand as here they truly are the ‘mighty’ oak.

In Manitoba, where I grew up near Selkirk, trees were planted for a purpose: as a wind break, as protection from the strong winds that tore over the flat fields. Or by chance, a seed caught in that wind, and against the odds, made it through to maturity. As a result, our oaks are really quite modest compared to the UK, but damn are they hardy!

Reflecting now, I think it comes from one of my earliest memories.

We have possibly the smallest, oldest oak tree in all of Manitoba to the side of my parent’s house on the farm. And for those who don’t know, my parents built a log house.

Not from Oak. I want to say Elm, but I can’t be sure.

It was a sunny day, and like a film replaying in my mind, I see my Grandpa Jenkins.

He wasn’t a big man. Not comparatively to my father, his son, who was always a mountain of man. Both wonderfully warm and patient.

Cut to my little 4 year old self spreading out a blanket under this crooked oak tree with what now seems like 3 branches with 3 leaves each. 😏

We had a little picnic.

I can’t tell you what we had but I can imagine it was cucumber sandwiches that only my mom can make and Kool-Aid. I can see us chatting away taking in the farm. He loved his gardening, I’m told. It’s the only real memory I have of him as he passed the next year. I still visit that tree every time I go home. That means more to me of him than the grave stone across the road at the church. So maybe it began there.

So how does this apply to identity?

I ask you to do a little exercise and stop to think what is your favourite tree, and why. I’ve looked at my favourite childhood books and there is a common theme. In fact, I asked Neil for a Willow tree for my birthday, I think just to recreate my favourite childhood poem: Who has seen the Wind?

The saying on the money box is what I strive for daily and like that scrawny, crooked, perfect-picnic oak tree, I hope to help with special moments for others, that I can be of comfort to those who need it, that although I may not look mighty at times, that I can be lent on for support.

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