Sunday, June 27, 2010

Moving Forward

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Dalai Lama

The garden

Brannin Beuhner outfitting himself with his gear (the harness)
Bear & Owl Tree Care
First Class Arborist, Certified Logging Professional
Fully Insured and Licensed
400-6913/ 733-4959

Leaning back with chainsaw to cut deadwood from the walnut tree

Looking quite relaxed up there.....

This shot kinda puts it all in perspective...

Swinging! Is work supposed to be this fun?!

Ben tending to the apple tree

The remains

It was a tough last few days. For those who have followed my blog, I know that you have been wondering the fate of our small school. This past week, the town voted 269 to 230 to close Lubec High School. The day before the vote, a group of us gathered at Flatiron Corner and rallied in support of keeping our children here in our own community. News crews and journalists snapped photos and interviewed participants. For two days or more we were the headline for most of Maine. Other districts watched with anticipation, hoping that their school will not be the next casualty of underfunded education.

I first received the news at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, 2 1/2 hours after polls closed. My sister had just arrived from central Maine and the unfortunate timing for her meant that she would have to listen to me repeat over and over for the next two hours "I can't believe this is happening." I was in shock. The next morning I woke feeling sort of numb. I went to my "pottery cave" to throw, and as my hands cupped and centered the clay, a whole flood of emotions poured out of me. I realized that I was moving through the stages of grief. The sadness deepened as empathy built for my students, whom I imagined were experiencing emotions much the same as mine, only ten-fold more intensely.

I was thankful for a call from a friend asking me to walk with her. It gave me the opportunity to process the event more fully. A second walk later that morning with my sister down the boardwalk to Mowry Beach, and up through town, brought me in contact with folks from the community. I could hear in their voices the same shock and grief that I was feeling.

That afternoon, Kristin and I returned back to the house and started to plant a garden. I was tired form the drama, but felt that now, more than ever, I needed a symbol of hope and growth. I laid out a design similar to the inner square in a mandala with four gates and a "seed" center.

Moments after we made the rows and mounds, the sky broke open and weeped heavily. Floods of rain came down over the garden. Then, as quickly as the storm swept in, it cleared out. Sun streamed intensely over the spruce, maple and birch, making the green of the leaves glow against the grey. A double rainbow arched over the town.

I felt at that moment that I had let go of my worry and pain and could sense exciting new beginnings about to unfold.

My sister left Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning my longtime artist friend Becky arrived from Portland for a visit with her very energetic seven year old daughter Alice. We enjoyed a day of beach-combing and shopping and we even went to an art opening at the library downtown. When we go back to the house Brannin Beuhner of "Bear and Owl Tree Care" called to let me know that he had a free evening to tend to some of our injured trees. Last summer's construction left many of the limbs broken, sharp-tipped, and pained. Brannin and his apprentice, a very interesting organic farmer/sailor/yogi from Vermont, began to climb and cut. At first, it was odd to see the bareness left behind. But this morning when I woke, it all felt good and healthy.

Becky, Alice, and I went out to breakfast at Village Restaurant then burned off energy at the West Quoddy trail. All felt perfect, listening to the waves crash the cliffside. Wild irises speckled the grass, and the air smelled salty and clean. We returned back to homebase to find Brannin and Ben here for day two of restorative tree care. Last night we mainly watched the simple hand-sawing of spruce deadwood but today's task required the more serious gear - a harness! Like a spider, Brannin climbed up "his thread" to a big dead walnut limb.

This walnut is the most majestic of trees in our yard. It stands taller than most, and despite it's huge girth and age, it weathers the elements, and still each summer, blooms green with fresh young leaves and produces walnuts that occasionally fall to the ground. Lately the dried-up dead limbs have been looking sorta tired.

Brannin, dressed in his harness, swung a beanie-weighted bag attached to his "spinneret" over the limb. He pulled himself up, swinging to and fro, until he could latch onto the branch with his arms. He then hauled up the motorized saw and began to cut away the deadwood. Each grayed and balding branch that fell to the earthen blanket seemed to lift the spirit of the tree canopy.

The Walnut tree looks even more proud now. I will from this day forward refer to Brannin as "The Tree Whisperer". He has a quiet aura about him, intuitive and sensitive to the trees' needs. He removes only what is necessary and approaches the task with reverence. He heals the wounds of the wood.

It was a tough few days emotionally, but my own healing has begun. The universe presented me with an unforeseen challenge, and is forcing me toward change. Like the garden, I am ripe for growth. Like the walnut tree, I am letting go of deadwood. I choose to not wallow in the pain of losing our high school, but instead, will look forward to new perspectives and opportunities.


If you are in need of an arborist to help heal or re-shape your landscape, I highly recommend Brannin Beuhner. Even though he is located here in Lubec, he tells me that he is currently working with folks as far south as Portland.

Bear & Owl Tree Care
First Class Arborist, Certified Logging Professional
Fully Insured and Licensed
400-6913/ 733-4959


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your school. We went through a similar process in my neighborhood after the levee flood here, and amazingly overwhelmed the school board so that this fall we'll have an elementary school for the first time since 2005. Unfortunately, now there's the oil burning off in the Gulf. Life goes on, doesn't it? I gave up on fair and unfair years ago, realizing those are man-made concepts, and we just need to figure out how to deal with each event as it occurs. Good luck with your community. Sweet blog - naomi


Thanks for the comment Naomi. When I hear others' stories, it puts things in perspective for me. Yes, life goes on. And I am thankful for what we DO have. You never know what beauty can come out of the seemingly most horrible events.

Thanks for visiting my blog.