“Why is there a copy of The Asheville Times from March 10, 1957?” asked my mother. Those are the things you ponder when you are going through filing cabinets at your grandmother’s house.
“What on earth was she keeping this for?”
I picked up the weathered paper with the tips of my fingers like it was a priceless artifact. ‘An Uneasy Peace in the Middle East’ was the title of one of the articles. As well as an editorial on how President Dwight D. Eisenhower snubbed Jospeh McCarthy by not inviting him to an official state dinner, and a scientific piece about the South Pole.
“Yeah that’s odd,” I said, reading about the infamous Senator from Wisconsin. “Put it back in that folder though, it might be bad luck to throw it away.”
This morning I was sitting outside on her front porch drinking instant coffee out of a mug that was made in the USA. I looked out at the pond and noticed four dead trees. They were beautiful. They reminded me of the sculptures that are always near the entrance in a museum. You know, the sculptures that look like they’ve almost been destroyed by earthquake or war. I love looking at those, not so much for their artistic value as for their gumption. These things survived. For a long time. And because they survived they have beauty and value.
I wonder when those trees took root, out there, on the other side of the pond. When did they die? And why haven’t they gone away? Does it matter that they're dead? They’re as alive and vibrant a part of the landscape of the pond as the greenest tree. Even more so actually. Their gray lifeless trunks stand out against the lush green trees and the tall think grass.
We are on this earth for such a short time, and our culture values the young, the fresh, the new. It’s refreshing to know that occasionally things are worthwhile simply because they make it. Whether they do it in a museum, in a pond, or in the back of my grandmother’s filing cabinet.