Old Maple

Old maple tree at Woolman Hill

The majestic, old maple sits in front of the seventeenth century farmhouse at Woolman Hill Retreat Center in Deerfield, MA. I took the featured image you see here some fifteen years ago just as the su
n was rising over the hills beyond. This tree is powerful, it has a message, and I have been photographing it and meditating nearby it and watching children play beneath it on and off for over twenty-five years.

This tree is spiritually powerful, and sadly too, this grand old tree is slowly dying. The arborists have pruned and patched and cabled what they could to give it time but no one knows for sure how long it will be with us. Last month I stood at sunrise with my camera in the very same position as before and did not take the shot.

There are many living things we’d rather not outlive. And though I treasure the decades I have lived in and through and hope for more, a tree that’s lived two centuries-plus has had a good run too, no doubt. But we’ve talked, the tree and I, and still there are birds to house and dappled shade for passerbies and children playing underneath.

Viewing Old maple through windowI’ve climbed this grand old maple many times to rescue stranded balls and Frisbees. I have also climbed to sit among its sprawling branches, to feel its strength until age, my own age, informed me that my climbing days were numbered. Still, for a time at least, I took pleasure in boosting children up the tree’s mammoth trunk to reach the lowest boughs so they could breathe in what the maple had to say. This year I watched younger staff help the young ones up the tree as I framed the scene and took the picture then set my camera down.

It was just a moment really, of reverence, of bittersweet right order, of life unfolding of youth climbing through the years, of strength receiving and receding and yet, of life aplenty, still.

Text and images by Kevin Lee

Author: Kevin Lee

In a nutshell, Kevin fesses up to the following: He’s a retired youth advocate-counselor, a blogger, writer, photographer, rower, Friends Minister, grandpa of six and married to a terrific woman for 43 years and counting!

3 thoughts on “Old Maple”

  1. Kevin, what a beautiful story. I too know this tree as I have being going to Woolman Hillf since I was a teen. M&C,s annual retreat is at Woolman Hill again this year so I will need to make peace with it. Thanks for sharing your gift of the written word. I wonder what the tree could tell US about how we have changed over the years — or maybe we have not changed

    1. Hello Rhoda, Thank you for your kind comments regarding “Old Maple.” There’s just something very powerful about many of the trees on the Hill, and especially that one old maple in front of the main house. You’r relationship with the tree goes back farther than mine, apparently, so you well surely understand and feel what I mean when you are there for the M and C retreat.

      And thanks for taking the time to visit Rise This Day. I’m just now able to find the time to begin adding content, pages and more stories, etc., so more are on the way for sure! Wishing you peace, light and love, my Friend.


  2. peace light and love -all in the majestic maple -stoic and strong .though i live too far away to feel the maple i can feel its beauty and strength through your powerful description .though as you say the maples days may be numbered i do hope it will remain with us all for some more time .thank you

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