Tree of Life

There is a special tree, that sways to the side like a painting, that serves as a route marker of time.

Killbear is special because it is the first place we camped together at as a family.

It is the first family vacation we took during the pandemic and we were so excited to get back out into the world.

This moment of T and I looking out into Georgian Bay encapsulates so many emotions about life.

It’s family tradition to take a photo of T with the iconic Killbear tree – a white pine that is over a century old – one we’ll continue as he gets older.

Here he was in 2016 at 18 months…

… in 2017 at 2 years…

… in 2020 at age 5…

… and our recent camping weekend at age 8.

I often think how fun it would be to have a photo one day of an adult T with his own little one – a full circle moment.

But if you look closely, there is now a beam supporting the tree.

A sign on the beam reads: “This tree has been the symbol of Killbear for decades. Sadly it is in decline and needs support. Please do not climb.”

When I first saw this, during our early Saturday morning hike, my excitement turned into sadness.

The tree’s state reminded me about life – and to enjoy every moment, even the declining period.

I thought about how wonderful it would be if everybody rallied around our most vulnerable – in T’s case, individuals with FASD – with the same fervor of support as they did this tree.

Life would bloom with more possibilities.

Who knows how much longer this tree will be around – maybe it won’t be here at our next visit.

But there’s no point worrying. We only have the here and now.

And even if it’s a stump one day, we’ll still visit and treasure this spot for all that it represents to our family.

20 thoughts on “Tree of Life

    1. Thanks Faith. It’s been around for over a century. I hope it lasts more years but looks like it’s on its way out. 😞 We will treasure the photos and memories.

  1. What a lovely tradition to take a picture of T with the famous windswept pine tree at Killbear. It’s crazy how quickly he’s grown through the years. It’s too bad the tree is in decline. You’re right, it’s hard to know what the future holds. Sometimes you just have to focus on the present and the memories you’re making in the moment and hope for the best. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

    1. Thanks Linda. We only have the here and now indeed. And it’s a good reminder to do so. Congrats on making it to the end of your short week back! This was a long one for us. 😆 It’s nuts to start feeling the cool air and fall colours!

  2. That’s why we take photos. It’s our way to collect memories. Even if that tree becomes a stump one day, you have all those photos to remind you how magnificent it used to be, and how much loved it once was. And memories stay with us forever. Here’s to many more years taking photos of T with that beautiful tree!

    1. Thanks Bama! Agreed. Beyond the photos, we create their experiences so we can hang onto to the memories and the feelings they evoke one day. 😊🙏

  3. I love the pictures of T with the tree. Wow wow wow! I’m sorry to hear about the decline of the tree but I bet there’s a whole other post about growing and thriving in rocky soil. As far as rallying around our most vulnerable, I love it. Seems that what community should be about – especially because we all take turns! Beautiful post, Ab!

    1. Thanks Wynne. 😊 I like your suggestion about growing and thriving in rocky soil. I’ll have to think about it. But yes, so sad about the tree. To put it into context, it’s lived through the two World Wars and so many more milestones. Sad to see it decline.

  4. What a cool idea of taking T’s picture every year at the tree, I enjoyed seeing how he grew up so fast. This tree whether there or not, will remain in your heart with the wonderful memories of your first camping place together. Like you said, even if it’s gone that spot (and maybe a stump) will always be a reminder.

    1. Thanks Diane. We love this tradition and whether the tree is there one day or not, the spot will hopefully still be there to visit and reminiscence and create new memories.

  5. Wow, so much wisdom in this piece. It really hits the mark. I especially liked this line, “The tree’s state reminded me about life – and to enjoy every moment, even the declining period.” Love the series of pics. SHow T’s growth. And who knows, maybe the Kildare tree will revive. You’re right, wish people cared about each other the same way!!!! Beautiful post

  6. Your post reminds me of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and how, at each stage of the child’s life, the tree offered what was needed – a structure for play, apples to sell, branches to build a home, the trunk for a boat, and a stump to rest on. I know it’s become controversial in recent years, but I loved that story when I was young.

    The iconic Killbear tree does seem like an symbolic landmark for you family, and I love that you intend to keep visiting, even as it declines (though I hope the extra support will revive it). I also like what Deb says about the juxtaposition of growth and decline. It’s such a valuable reminder to remain present and celebrate precisely where we are today.

    1. Thanks Erin. I love The Giving Tree and actually wrote a post it someone early last year when a tree fell over during a storm next door to us. It’s such a beautiful book and I’ve read it to T before. Always make me cry.

      And yes, life is a circle and ups and downs, growth and decline indeed! 🙏

  7. Loving reflections on the juxtaposition of change Ab! There must be a balance of growth beside decline and the images of T alongside that windswept tree show both in dramatic ways. I think sometimes it’s easy to support what is obvious and looming right in front of us, yet miss the quieter aspects that need their voices to be heard and acknowledged as well. T is growing into a world where he has at least 2 champions on his side, and learning what it means to support others.

    1. Thanks Deb. I like your juxtaposition of growth and decline. Life is a circle and balance indeed. I do hope he’s growing into such a world that you see from your end. There are so many rough moments that it’s sometimes hard to see. 😆

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