In the heart of Nashville, Indiana, on a walking trail that runs along the banks of the Salt Creek is a sycamore tree that would stop most observant travelers in their tracks. If they heed the call to come closer, they are rewarded with gifts of man and nature’s creative collaboration.
The tree stands about a hundred feet tall with two big trunks of equal size rising from a massive exposed root system. The thick roots naturally form what looks like a bench, perfect for a person to rest, or think or pray.
Upon closer examination, the gnarled roots at one end of the bench are expertly carved to look like a large benevolent hand. Five sturdy curved fingers rise out of the flat root bench to gently hug anyone who stops to sit under the sycamore on the bank of the Salt Creek.
As I relaxed in the tree’s embrace and absorbed the beauty of nature and art, I was struck by the deep relationship between the two. I imagined the sculptor reverently asking the sycamore for its permission to cut into its roots to co-create something that would celebrate its magnificence.
When I rose from the comforting spot, I noticed a piece of paper hanging by a nail on the primary trunk of the tree. I climbed up the roots to get a closer look. At the top of the page it read ~ Friends, if you like this poem, please take a copy. The poem was titled View of Life by Andrew Hubbard.
Ceremoniously, I removed the white laminated paper off the rusty nail. My heart soared before I even read the poem. Under the fading fall canopy of a sycamore, I felt I’d stumbled upon a secret society of poets, artists and mystics as inspired by nature as I.
The irony of a poet posting a poem on a tree amused me. At a time when people hastily share their every thought on social media and the Internet, I found Hubbard’s post refreshingly clever, quaint and genuine.
On the back of his poem, Hubbard wrote that this month marks five years since he began hanging poems on the tree “partly in an attempt to publicize myself, and partly just for fun.” He posts a poem every other month and replaces copies as they are taken.
With my eyes on my gift from the sycamore tree, I slowly walked down the Salt Creek Trail feeling crispy leaves crunch underfoot. The dappled sun danced on the page through yellowing limbs and wild sounds along the creek vibrated as I read Hubbard’s poem and contemplated my own tiny mark. §
View of Life
Of all nature’s metaphors
The one that takes my breath
Is the blast of October wind
(Sometimes with a slap of rain)
Tearing loose a million leaves
And twirling them to crisp drifts
That will fade and collapse
Under the stern weight of winter.
On every tree each fallen leaf
Left a tiny mark, a place
For a new leaf to push
Its way into sunlight
When the infinitely slow, infinitely certain
Pulse of spring sings to it.
The ones who went before,
Leaves and people,
Have little trace or memory
And there is sadness in that
But grandeur also.
Andrew Hubbard is a poet who lives in Nashville, Indiana. He has published three books of poetry titled “Things That Get You”, “The Divining Rod”, and “Meeting the Moon Halfway”. Hubbard’s books are available at Amazon.com or by contacting him at ahubbard1050@yahoo.
4 thoughts on “An Artist, a Tree, a Poet and Me”
Alicia- Although I always read them, I realize I haven’t responded to your posts recently. This one really struck a chord with me because the imagery was such that I could see you at that tree and imagine how the experience of finding Andrew’s poem would impact you as it did. I’ve appreciated reading your posts about slowing down, enjoying nature, and the beauty in the smallest of things! I’m also finding that one of the greatest joys of retirement is the slowing down and developing relationships with people who previously had been somewhat invisible to me. You’d think it would the be the richness of all my travel, but really it’s the relationships I’ve fostered in my neighborhood that have been my greatest gift! I’ve uncovered a treasure trove of needs-I know every community has them-but was too busy to get involved at much more that at a surface level. Folks who are elderly, lonely, injured, and hungry. I also discovered other newly retired folks also eager to serve and found friendships to be developed and cherished! Fondly, Sally
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Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Sally! I know you are a seeker of all the goodness and beauty in the world. I remember how much I enjoyed exploring interesting things with you during the years we lived near each other. Thanks for reading and encouraging me to get more involved in the community Mike and I have chosen for our retirement. I enjoyed your most recent travel pics and look forward to seeing more. Love you, my friend. 🙂
Looks as though you did capture Hemingway at that old bar which would have made him very happy!
Ha ha! It’s no Old Man and the Sea, but it was fun writing in a new place while sipping a margarita! 😉