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What I Know to Be True

Six months since my last Back to Basics post, and I too am still swirling precariously close to despair. When does the worrying end? How much uncertainty can one person, community, nation, or planet take before it just gives up trying?

Thankfully, I am receiving therapy…outside. On an average of three days a week, I become fully engaged in the outdoor environment, sometimes from dawn to near dusk, where I join two others on an arborist’s tree crew (three when the job is intense enough for the owner, Warren Jacobs, to work onsite). I help the team’s climber/foreman as well as his full-time ground assistant with rope work, equipment shuffling, chipper operation, and lots and lots and lots of dragging heavy branches and raking delicate sticks.

A well-dressed client’s (left) selfie with the JTS crew (three on right).

Every job is done in the company of friends: the trees and the crew members. It’s wonderfully physical work for a gal who spends too much time sitting at a desk, thinking, wondering what could be done to improve our state of affairs.

Still, some days we save trees; some days we cut them down. It is the balance of these facts that sways my emotions. I react to the truths I experience first hand versus any truths that a stranger hopes I believe. For instance, I mourned when the thriving, half-century old pin oak was traded for sunlight by its owner, her pool deemed more important than the shade for the city block.

I concurred when a neighbor came by to jokingly ask if we could transplant the massive tree to the front of his house instead.

On another day, I cheered as I stood in a swirl of flying dirt, stones, and mulch, blasting away the choking mound that had repeatedly been heaped against the root flare of a young maple tree. I let myself believe the tree smiled with me, since I was giving it a chance to reach a life expectancy that extended beyond my own.

I know exhaustion because I lived through a hard day. I know healing because I watched the bruises fade. I know friendship because I heard the sincerity in my coworkers’ and boss’s laughter. I know appreciation, because I tasted the cookies from a homeowner who gave them in gratitude for the dangerous hazard removed.

I know security because I ate the hot meal my loving husband had waiting for me.

I know the sun on my shoulders, the breeze on my face, and the planet’s persistence in fighting for life.

We are living in a time of uncertainty and mistrust “the likes of which the world has never seen before.” However, when I move out from behind the screen, beyond the advertising and political campaigns, to see the truth unfold, uncertainty fades. I can trust what I experience there. And if I seek out signs of a positive future, my awareness of those indicators grows and hope builds. I contribute what I can–onscreen and off–but first I must connect with the fuel that powers me to keep on keepin’ on.


Hemlock at Leonard Harrison

A mighty old hemlock on my recent visit to Leonard Harrison SP (Tioga County, PA).

7 thoughts on “What I Know to Be True”

  1. Love this and so true. I have found my center and some peace outside in the woods on hiking trails all of this strange year it keeps me going !

  2. You said it well. We have to know what keeps us grounded in these uncertain, tumultuous times. The outdoors does it for me too. I like this piece, Ruth.

    1. Rosalie:

      I wonder how many people out there don’t realize how therapeutic Nature can be. I suppose if more did, our nation’s priorities would change.

      Thanks for reading and contemplating this piece,


  3. Thank you Ruth for honesty about the frustrations of uncertainty! We are a methodical lot; going through the same motions over and over. Sometimes I think that good, bad, or indifferent; change is necessary to shake things up. My favorite gripe, sometimes early in the morning is; “ Put the dishes away, take them back out, put them back in the dishwasher, on and on.“ No I’m not proud of this but it’s an analogy of how tedious life can be. IF WE LET IT!
    People, politics, and circumstances can be discouraging. We struggle with what and who to believe. The news is slanted and everyone is looking for something real to latch onto. The noise of our society is deafening until we retreat into the garden, into the woods. Nature provides a whole different scenario on who we are, small and dependent on our universe. We are able to breathe a real breath, we can talk to the trees, they listen and stand tall. If we tally; we will find within ourselves something beautiful and honest and bold. The importance of harmony rings loud and clear, the earth is our home for but a little while. We are here to nurture and care for the garden and preserve the future.
    Now I feel better, confidence restored and strength regained to continue to do the best we can to uphold all that is beautiful! Thank you Ruth for spurring us forward. Amen

    1. PS Trees are our best friends! We can rest in the shade, meditate in the shade, hug 🤗 anytime, and feel safe. Not to mention the ability they have to ground us upon sight!

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