To add a little spice to our walk, our “roll and stroll” around our park-like environs, Tina and I pretend that a particularly large and attractive maple tree is “Mabel the maple.”
I wheel Tina’s wheelchair to a point on the road that is only a dozen feet away from Mable, and we chat with her, admittedly, a one-sided chat, but a friendly chat nonetheless. We have told her that she is a magnificent specimen, an exceptionally strong and attractive maple.
We have thanked her for the protection she gives us when she shades our eyes from the afternoon sun. She accepts our praise without comment. We tell her that she “does maple” marvelously well, and that we admire anything done so near to perfection, as she does.
“You are looking particularly good today, Mabel, very colorfully dressed,” we said more than once last fall. She was lovely. I alerted her to the coming winter and suggested she get ready for a long nap. When she was ready, she let her colorful leaves fall all around her and went to sleep. We told her we understood and would look forward to conversing with her when she awoke.
Few days between fall and spring were clement enough for our walks. In March we resumed them. Mabel was still asleep, but we told her we knew she would be awakening soon and getting dressed for May. We could hardly wait, my dear wife and I.
A week or two ago, little bumps on Mabel’s branches started to unfold and grow. We complimented her for having survived the winter and for getting ready to dazzle us with her spring outfit. Day by day, she dressed more fully for us, starting with leaves more nearly gold than green. As Frost noted, “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold.” I did not recite the whole poem for Mabel, as it is sad, ending in, “Nothing gold can stay.” We want to be upbeat. No need to look toward winter when spring and summer and fall beckon.
Today, Mabel was lovely, still adding to her finery, as more leaves and bigger leaves adorned her limbs. Today, however, she showed another element of her nature, as protector, beyond protecting us from sun or rain.
We live next to a golf course, and today the local high school golf team was doing its eighteen holes of practice. Too near us, one of the kids was getting ready to hit the ball, and rather than shout to him to stop, I moved Tina and myself a few feet to the side so that Mabel was between him and us. It would have taken a particularly errant shot to hit Mabel, or to hit us if we were not behind her, but sure enough the student golfer smacked the ball in our direction.
Mabel protected us. We heard the ball hit her, and saw it bounce back toward the teenager.
As we walked and rolled away, we thanked her. Mabel is a marvelous maple tree. We appreciate her. We hope she knows it.