Yesterday, I climbed the tree I always see my kids up. I pulled myself higher than my body said was safe, a phrase I use on my little ones- your body is always trying to tell you something. I went until the top of the flexible hemlock tree actually bent with my weight. I leaned up against her pole sized trunk one foot on a limb and one on another and I looked out at the hills. The wind blew, and all her limbs lifted to let the breeze through, then I closed my eyes. They lifted in a way I had never noticed until that moment; reaching toward the sky and then flinging down when it was over an equal distance. I suppose you can’t really know what the branches are doing from only one view. My stomach turned. I stood there for a while feeling the up and down of it all, not feeling the cold in an uncomfortable way, just feeling it. The icy tear tracks on my face were a relief. The breeze turned into the breath I had forgotten to take. I slowed my thoughts, I tried on a smile. It was forced but it was a beginning. Gratitude mixed with sadness for the tree and the breeze and my legs and my tears and my forced smile made me gasp and choke and cry all at once. I opened my eyes, sat down on the branch and settled in. The smoke from the sap I was boiling swirled up into my nostrils. I consciously welcomed the sweetness into my chest and the space behind my eyes. I crept back down and stoked the fire.