we were silently canoeing in a quiet lake. very few other people were out. it was almost still. the sun was warm on our faces. and there is a certain rustling sound that birch trees make in a gentle breeze. as we drifted around a bend, there was an old, old tree, its broken, jagged end angled a foot above the water. from a distance, and then closer, we could see what looked like a tiny garden growing in the tree’s jagged end.
“it’s a nurselog,” he said. as the fallen tree disintegrated, the organic matter became the perfect soil for new growth. small plants were stretching out of their new home, this welcoming space they had found.
(later i looked it up. on asknature.org i read, “tall, wide trees in the forests of the pacific northwest serve as nurse logs to their seedlings after they fall, providing decades of water and nutrients as they slowly decay.”)
nurse log. nurselog. (i like it as one word.) i thought about it as we paddled. my sweet momma was a nurselog. everyone she encountered she gave space to, nurtured, made at home. she was the perfect soil for others’ new growth, whoever they were.
isn’t that our job?
one of my favorite children’s books is called ‘the carrot seed’ by ruth krauss. the copy i have of it is one of those hard cardboard books that get all goobery on the edges after hundreds of readings. in the book a little boy wants to plant carrots but is cautioned by his mother, his father and his big brother that the carrots won’t grow. regardless, he diligently continues to water and tend the little spot where he planted the carrot seed. and then one day, a carrot came up. my favorite line from the book is “just as the little boy had known it would.” there is an illustration by crockett Johnson that depicts the little boy with a wheelbarrow that has in it the biggest carrot you’ve ever seen.
the power of nurturing.
anne lamott (in ‘grace, eventually’) wrote, “all of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.”
“…provide decades of water and nutrients…”
we kept canoeing, our paddles gliding in and out of the calm water, the lake answering our unspoken questions.
is one of my earliest tracks.
recorded on ‘released from the heart’
THE CARROT SEED inspired this piece.