The Maple

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Below is a simple story. My friend Anita painted another treat for me. As always, I accept the responsibility of trying to describe what I saw when I first looked at the painting. This is what seemed to be the story…


Their accidental love was just blossoming when they bought their first house; one so small that they once joked that their elbows rubbing together so often might reduce it to cinders. On their first anniversary, they planted a maple sapling in the back yard. They would sit on their small porch, quietly swinging, looking west, and observing the majesty of nature and their contribution to it. As the sapling grew, they used it to measure their shared time. In year three, lightning struck it and made it a pile of smoldering splinters. They replanted, laughing, hands thick with dirt. In year seventeen, a surprising and brief tornado ripped the replacement and took it to parts unknown. As he walked among the saplings in his neighbor’s nearby field to choose another, he felt the sharp pains again. This time, they stubbornly persisted. The doctor confirmed what he feared and as they planted the third maple, he gave her the devastating news and comforted her in the quiet way that only he knew. As his disease progressed, he lost his job and then she lost hers to care for the only man she had ever loved. They frowned and then giggled as the bank came to let them know that their small house of big love was theirs no longer. The day he died, she returned and hesitantly walked around and behind the now lifeless empty house, nervously holding her breath as the October sun beckoned her, even as the chilly breeze tugged at her. Even though their special tree was again no more than a small vertical challenge to the sky, she could picture what might have been. She could feel the warmth of the autumn sun and the lingering presence of him. She smiled, knowing that everything was just as it should be.

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