The beginning of evening on the most perfect day of summer — only a fair weather wisp of cloud tracing across the bluest sky, good clean clear sun unmolested by humidity, which on Nantucket can be suffocating. But not today. Today Beverly and I took a picnic to the beach out Smith Point way, pulled up a parcel of beach to call our own and went for a swim in the surf. The water was almost a Caribbean turquoise but icy cold. The surf as gentle as it ever is on the South Shore. I believe it's only the second time since 1993 that I've dared enter the sea here, since extricating myself can be tricky. As it was even today but the wave that hit me carried me perfectly up the little pebble incline and dumped me with a measure of true grace on the beach. It was a delight and oh-so much a summer pleasure on this island.
But now I am in town pirating the Jared Coffin House's WiFi and blogging from across the street where there is a small garden. The late afternoon sun dapples the lawn and me with lovely patterns of shade. Areas like this are called pocket parks here, an evocative name for these cozy green spaces scattered hither and yon around town.
This one however is special and my mission here a personal one that has nothing to do with writing this post. Tucked in a shady corner is a large evergreen tree that is desperately leaning out from underneath the hugh ash tree behind it, toward the sun, toward life. Behind it a cable extends to another tree, I guess to discourage it from falling over altogether.
This tree was planted in memory of my parents as a discrete plaque beside it indicates. My siblings and I donated it to Hospice Care of Nantucket and it now serves as the Tree of Remembrance where, once a year, the day before Thanksgiving, people gather to hang a scallop shell in memory of a lost loved one. It is always an immensely moving ceremony.
But a call I got yesterday required I visit it and look it over. I was told the tree was leaning badly (it is) and the back was dying (one small low branch looks like it might be gone). Otherwise, it is tall and healthy and very very brave as it tries to find the life-giving light. And did we want to do what it took to keep it as a memorial to our folks? Turns out there's another family that would like to have someone in their family remembered permanently in the same way. And the unsettling impression I got was that if we were tired of remembering our parents in this way or perhaps did not want to underwrite the cost of planting a new tree or working to save the old one, perhaps we wouldn't mind just stepping aside.
Truffle: Taking the plunge.
Quote of the day: "For a tree to become tall it must grow tough roots among the rocks." (Friedrich Nietzsche)