My father loves trees.
When he built his new house, it was on beautiful forest land covered with trees.
When they started construction, he was incredibly careful and only cut down the trees that were absolutely necessary for the driveway and house.
He kept all the rest of the trees and even planted more.
My Dad takes incredible care of his land and every single one of these trees.
When we visit, he teaches me all the different names of the trees and shows me how to recognize them by the texture of the bark or the pattern of the pine needles.
In fact, he is so meticulous about his trees, that this always catches me off guard.
Can you see it?
It’s a funky looking stump that my Dad left standing.
My Dad is a master at wielding a chainsaw to remove dead trees and stumps.
So why did he leave this one?
This Thanksgiving, I finally asked him, “So, Dad, why have you left that stump in your backyard?”
He smiled, cleared his throat and leaned toward me in his chair.
“It’s called a snag,” my Dad began, “It’s a dead tree that’s been burned out in a forest fire.”
“This one’s cedar,” he continued, “And the funny thing about cedar is that it doesn’t rot after it’s burned, like other trees do. Other trees will just rot and completely fall apart.”
“There are snags all around here,” he said, “But we’ve never seen one like this before. It’s so big and intricate.”
Then my Mom, who had been listening, joined in the conversation.
“The squirrels love to play on it,” she added, “And the wind blows it back and forth. But it never falls down or breaks, even though it doesn’t have any roots.”
I listened with interest and felt new appreciation for this funky stump beginning to develop as I saw my parents’ obvious enjoyment in their unique snag.
Then my Dad looked out the window at the gnarled wood standing amidst the perfect trees that surrounded it.
“It’s a tribute to its own existence.”