Even though my career as an arborist is and always has been rewarding in many ways, much like any other profession, I can still get bogged down with the regimen of appointments and the sometimes repetitive nature of certain parts of the job. As anyone would expect, this is particularly true in the busy and active growing season.
I can, however, always get a refreshing and simplistic take on most anything that I would otherwise feel a need to dissect and pick apart. All I need to do is ask my 4-year-old son Owen for his opinion on just about any matter.
In our backyard and underneath about a dozen or so mature pine trees we have a trampoline. This is a regular thing a few times a week. Jumping, jumping, and more jumping. Then we’ll usually fall on our backs, where we stare up at the trees while catching our breath. The pine trees are full of pine cones, and I’ll challenge him to count the ones he can see. There are literally thousands of pine cones. He’ll typically last about a minute or so until he realizes he’s lost his place in the trees, he’ll then ask me to take over. My method works pretty well; I begin counting out loud then do it in my head and eventually spit out some ridiculously large number. When I ask him why he thinks there are so many pine cones, he answers confidently that it’s because they’re happy. Why are they happy? Obviously, because they like watching us jump on the trampoline. This makes perfect sense to us both and it’s important that we try and jump on the trampoline often. For the trees.
When I think about things like this, finding the simplicity in what can be otherwise complicated subjects, I always think about a poem by Whitman;
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
“When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.” -WALT WHITMAN
To me this poem sums up so many things that can be beautiful yet complicated. And while it’s of course important to stay on top of the whys and the hows. It’s never a bad idea to just look at things through a simple lens.
Owen also thinks I’m an extraordinary pine cone counter.