Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chris's Little Pile of Twigs

I wrote this post several weeks ago, and I continue to tinker with it.  How three simple paragraphs confound me, when much longer and more complex posts don't, is beyond my understanding.  Regardless, I hope you recognize the feeling I was trying to get across, and that you feel this way about someone you love.  


Several weeks ago, I watched from the kitchen window as Chris pruned the branches of the small barberry bush next to the shed near the back fence.  I saw him take a few moments to stand several feet from the plant, assess its size and shape, and consult the pages of an old copy of the Sunset Pruning Handbook his mother had given him.  Grey autumn skies overhead, Chris studied the book in his left hand, then approached the plant, placing the clipper along branches where he thought it should go and squeezing the handle. Whenever I looked up from what I was doing, there was Chris in front of the barberry, taking great care to make the right decisions about where to prune.  I smiled.  His patience and diligence touched me.  That's the Chris I know and love.  That's the man I cherish.

Until recently, the small pile of cut twigs from the barberry sat on the grassy boulevard in front of our house.  Chris cuts branches from any other plant into small pieces and reserves them for use in our compost bin over the fall and winter, but not the barberry, because of its thorns. Instead, he placed them on the boulevard in preparation for someone from the district to drive by, as they do twice a year, to process yard debris through a chipper.  In comparison to the larger, more obvious, pile of debris at our neighbor's house, Chris's pile was scarcely visible, and became less so as the large, fiery red leaves from the maple trees above fell down, covering it over.  I was concerned it would be buried by the time the chipper arrived and remain there until the following spring.  

Every time I went out for a run over the subsequent weeks, I saw the little pile, and thoughts of Chris came readily to mind--calculating, that Sunday afternoon, the location of each clip, taking great care not to remove too much and adversely change the shape of the plant.  What I saw in front of me, sitting on the boulevard, was, to most people, a small pile of yard debris, nothing to pay any mind to.  But, as the days passed, it came to represent so much more.  Just last weekend, only a few days before the chipper arrived, I became aware of tears in my eyes as I walked past it.  Almost hidden then by brilliant red leaves, there it was, Chris's little pile of twigs--inexplicably symbolic of the character, integrity, and beauty of the most amazing human being I know.                             


  1. This made me well up. Truly beautiful piece!

  2. Thank you, Heather. My hope with this piece was that other people would understand how I felt, what I was getting at.

    I've learned so many things can come to symbolize the love we have for someone else. That little pile of twigs was an extension of Chris, because he created it.

    So many things make me feel the same way, remind me of him when he's not near--a program recorded on the DVR that only he has an interest in watching, a book on his nightstand, a shirt in his closet. How many times have I worn a piece of his clothing and felt closer to him--and felt his love, really?

    Strange, huh? Yet very human. I truly believe other people feel the same way. At least I hope they do. Hence the reason why we have so much difficulty letting go of some things belonging to someone who's no longer with us.

    Thanks again.

  3. Really beautiful thoughts, I hope I can one day find the kind of love you're describing here :)

  4. Anonymous, thank you for your kind words.
    I believe just being open to love means you have a greater chance of experiencing it.
    My fingers are crossed for you and anyone who feels as you do.