Monday, December 31, 2012

Digging my own grave

Digging my own grave is one of the most optimistic things I have ever done.

I took the pictures for this post months and months ago now.  And I lined them up and captioned them, and then they sat in my blogger queue to be written.  As winter came into this land of ours, it seemed increasingly too late to post.  I use this blog space, among other things, as tool for mindfulness of seasonal living.  And so it seems inappropriate to post oh-so-late like this.

But as the year of 2012 winds down, and as the world did not, in fact end with the Mayan calendar count, it seems resonant somehow to let this post mark the end of the year...

When I married my Darlin'Man, friends of ours gave us twinned birch saplings that wrapped around each other as a wedding present.  I named it the Wedded Tree.  We planted it in the muskeg and permafrost inhospitable ground at the cabin.  I made up my mind that I would not be superstitious, that if the little trees did not make it in the cold and inhospitable soil through a long and intensely cold winter; I would not take it as a doom to our marriage.  Amazingly, they survived and even grew (a lot! relatively) over a few years.

Then we bought the homestead and rented out the cabin, and I stubbornly insisted that we move the wedded tree some 20 miles and replant it.  The Darlin' Man was reasonably hesitant, resistant even, to the notion that the two of us could realistically move a tree.  But oh, I was stubborn.  And so he bought a come-along, we broke the handles of two or three shovels levering a ginormous root-ball, eventually resorted to scrabbling in cold soil with gloved hands to detach the last roots, made and impromptu sled out of old plywood and a bit of rope; and capitalized on the Darlin' Man's upper body strength, the horsepower of our big truck, and the magic of a come-along to move the tree some eighty feet and up into the back of said truck.   The we drove SLOWLY down the road, and peering out of the back window, I trepidatiously (if rather gleefully) watched the upper branches whip the powerlines crossing the road, not one but many times. 

Until eventually, we pulled into Bunchberry and drove carefully between baby orchard and fire pit to the Wedded Tree's new home:
Tree in the truck.
It sat in the back of the truck for a few days.   I spent a couple of evenings out in the yard, digging through the pitifully shallow layer of what passes as topsoil and then down into the glacial silt that our homestead sits on.  I dug through fading daylight and watched the stars come out.  As I dug, I realized that not only was I digging a hole in which to plant a tree, I was digging my own grave.  You see, I have always known that I wanted to be cremated and have my ashes put in a very special place.  As I began to dream of land and home, more than a decade ago now, I thought it would be lovely if there was a place on my own land where I could be laid to rest.  And when we talked about moving the tree to the Homestead  and were figuring out where to put it, I knew it had to be a place where a few trees could be planted.  Small ones, rowans and chokecherries, because I plan to plant a tree for each child, its placenta buried beneath.  There is an ancient middle american culture (featured in a recent National Geo article on indigenous culture and language loss -I'll have to go look it up) whose phrase used to inquire about where one is from literally translates as "where is your placenta buried?"  I love this idea of an embodied sense of place.  And as I thought more and more about this small grove of special trees, I realized that I knew where I wanted my ashes.  I want them mixed into the soil around the base of the Wedded Tree.

That weekend, the Darlin'Man and I got the tree out of the back of the truck and into the hole I had dug.  Here's hoping it survives another transplant!

Tree in the Ground
Its an optimistic act, planting a tree, digging a grave.  It is an act affirming that we will pay off the mortgage, that we will grow old together on our land, that the tree will survive and thrive, that we'll have healthy happy children who will grow into adults that will honor my burial wishes.  

Tree Planted

And so this seems the perfect post for this cusp of the year, looking into the grave and into the abundant future as I look back on the old year and welcome the new.  13 has always been my lucky number, may it herald a joyous year for all.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post Ms. Mina!

    I love the idea of burying your placenta from that child's birth under a tree planted in that child's name; I'm going to steal that one I think. :)

    I read the same National Geographic article; it's about a language that exists in Mexico. I remember loving that phrase as well.

    Here's hoping to the Wedded Tree, and all the little trees that will surround...