To me, trees embody something similar to a human spirit. My song this month is inspired by a sugar maple we planted in our yard in 1980. Step into the kitchen – there is a new song to sing!
THIS MONTH’S MUSIC: “Sugar Maple”
FEATURED NON-PROFIT: City of Goodness
Tom at The Burren Back Room. Photo: © 2020 Dan Tappan
This Saturday, June 25th, I am super excited to perform a full evening at the Javawocky Coffeehouse (The Universalist Unitarian Church of Brockton, 325 West Elm St, Brockton, MA.) Doors open at 7:00 pm ET (show starts 7:30). I will be joined by my talented musical collaborator, Seth Connelly. Masks required. This show will be in the more intimate chapel downstairs, so seating is limited. Tickets $15 ($13 seniors.)
Last month I introduced you to Olena Oksenych, a new friend living in Ukraine who translated my lullaby “I’ll Show You the Way” into Ukrainian and recorded it with some of her friends. Two weeks ago we released the song as a single to benefit the Ukrainian musicians and City of Goodness, a support center located in Chernivtsi, Ukraine for mothers and children in need. You can hear the song (plus the original English version) and donate on my Bandcamp site.
This Month’s Music: “Sugar Maple”
© 2022 Tom Smith
Recorded in Jaffrey, NH
Margo and I had been married about three years when we learned that we would become parents. Two years earlier we bought our “starter home” which was under three feet of snow at the time from the Blizzard of 1978. We continue to live in that house today.
As long as I can remember, I have had a special relationship with trees. There are some trees that live for thousands of years, but most common trees where I live have a life span similar to humans. For this reason, I can imagine how the life experience of certain special trees are a direct analog to my own. Such is the case for a sugar maple tree I planted in our yard when our first child, Heather, was born.
The previous summer, a large elm in the center of our yard succumbed to the Dutch Elm Disease. With a large hole in the center of our yard and the celebration of new birth in our family, I decided to plant a maple where the elm once stood. Not far from our property is a swampy, wooded area where I identified a young sugar maple about 1 inch in diameter. This is a photo (click to enlarge) that I took the day I liberated and relocated it to our back yard.
Today, that maple is 2 feet in diameter – too large for me to touch my fingertips when I embrace the trunk. The physical growth of that tree is emblematic of the growth of our lives together. Over the years, like all living things, we have had both wonderful and difficult experiences. We are grateful that we have overcome or are managing challenges – be it broken limbs, insects and climate change for our tree, or for Margo and me, dealing with the physical limitations of aging bodies and changes in the political climate.
When Margo had broken her shoulder requiring surgical repair, ironically a wind storm had split the two major trunks of our sugar maple. They remained standing precariously. In the spring, maple sap streamed from a gaping crevice. A tree surgeon installed a cable to support the two major trunks, and happily they are now bonded at their base; though a large scar is still visible at the split where the wound has mostly healed. On Mother’s Day last month, while pondering that scar and the cable in the top of the tree, I realized that it is impossible to tell which of the two trunks is supporting the other. Both are equally important to the structural integrity of our tree. That was the birth of the metaphor which is at the core of my song this month.
“Time will always have its way
Cracks reveal the stress and strain
It’s the price that bodies have to pay
But their spirit will belay
Against the wind and driving rain”
Steady on, friend!
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
My Ukrainian friend, Olena Oksenych has chosen City of Goodness as our featured organization this month. Please watch the video below to learn more about how they are supporting women and children in Ukraine during the war.
Please join me in supporting the great work of City of Goodness. For those of us living in the US, a convenient way to donate is to use the PayPal link on this page.