Mother Maple and Me

What do you love about nature? It helped me write a book!

#memoir #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

After I had my first manuscript bound Tuesday, I asked Ben to take a couple of pictures of me with it before I took it to my editor. But where? 

My first compulsive thought was the kitchen. Then I was like, no, and kept moving outside. Always go outside if at all possible. Then, I knew!

My old Mother Maple in our backyard! Her and I have seen each other through a million things these past ten and a half years, so it was only fitting. Seeing her out my office window all summer as I composed, revised, and kept writing was a source of strength. 

And Ben?  What a great witness and intermediary! He agreed to give me the time daily to draft here, daily, at my desk, for an hour every weekday morning watching the kids while he worked from home. 

Anyway, he took 5 pictures altogether. 

In this close up you can see that I’m centered right in front of Mother Maple and her trunk, so it looks like her massive bough-legs are coming out of my head!  I gave Ben hell immediately for it! Weren’t you a photographer? I chided. 

But now… it is my favorite. 

I love my Mona Lisa smile which almost triggered dimples in my cheeks. (or where they’d be). That my lips are pressed together, showing my sweet surrender to the situation. No teeth bearing. (Interesting point by the Healthline article linked in this paragraph. Thanks, Healthline!) I’d like to say that this was planned, but the truth is that I wasn’t quite sure when he was or wasn’t taking pictures.

And my photographer husband was snapping, like a photographer does, to try to get those shots in between the poses to see what happens. Damn! He is a photographer. I realized within hours that this is really a cool shot, making me a part of or extension of Mother Maple. Why did I give him shit about it? Oh, because I couldn’t see it at first! 

I love her so much, and seeing her everyday in our backyard through all our windows on the back side of the house brings me much joy. She gets almost daily hugs and Cherokee morning songs. I know little about the actual science of trees, so once when I noticed a strange soft spot on her trunk, I asked my friend Linda, a Certified Master Gardener, about it.

Me?! All that came to mind was that scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when the angry man is cementing over the hole in the tree where Scout was exchanging presents with Boo Radley. Linda said that people don’t do that anymore, or cover the hole-wounds.

She suggested cleaning it out and removing all the rot instead.

Makes total sense! 

I have a natural obsession to let things, and I truly mean inanimate objects as well as all living things, “breathe.” I’m obsessed with cross-breezes. 

So I attempt to gently remove all the soft pieces of bark and wood, and stop when no more bits would pull off easily. And I’ve repeated this procedure when I find soft spot wounds on her, and check on them with my visits. 

My first manuscript, after only four months of labor, is done. And off at its first editing now. Or this week. It is another act of love, Mother Maple, Ben and I. 

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