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Expert Trees


With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the driving forces behind Dunnigan is how each character chooses to deal with their past. For those who have yet to read the book, I do not wish to spoil it. However, I can tell you that each character has to decide what the impact of their past will be on their present. Sometimes events in our lives drive us to think on particular subjects. Sometimes our minds simply stumble onto things. Whatever the case, in recent days, it seems that I have given additional thought to the idea of how the past, present, and future intermingle to make up the daily walk.

As mentioned in previous blogs, my educational background is in the biological sciences. Several years ago, I learned more intricate details about how and why trees shed their leaves. I will not bore the readers with technicalities, but as the days grow shorter and food production slows down, the trees begin a biological process of evicting their leaves. One of the most fascinating new things I learned about during graduate work was “scissor cells.” Actually they are called abscission cells (both words having the same root word and the former being easier to remember), but the trees quite literally cut the leaves off with these special cells. Once they are pretty well detached, a gust of wind or a bit of rain easily removes them so that they may pile up in the gutters or your flower beds, but I digress. The fact is, if the trees tried to maintain leaves continually, they would die.

Now what does all this talk of trees and leaves have to do with us dealing with the past? Like the trees, if we hold on to old things too long, it consumes our energy. Like the trees, we must move on to different phases in life in order to, well, in order to keep on productively living. I have had to let go of things from time to time, and I am sure all of you have, too. Nobody said it was easy, but as is often the case, the important things never are. We will constantly relearn how to cope with each passing “season.” I believe the American poet Jeffrey McDaniel said it well when he wrote, “I realize there's something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they're experts at letting things go.”




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