Rings on a Tree

My husband, who enjoys turning rough wood on his lathe and making bowls, pens, or other objects, recently finished an unusual piece. He had cut a slice from a dead ash tree thinking the grandkids would have fun counting the annual tree rings. The slice had warped into a bowl. With the bark still on, he saw its artistic potential. He got to work sanding out the rough chainsaw grooves and applying coats of polyurethane. The resin brought the piece to life and it seemed to glow. Each annual growth ring popped out and showed different widths depending on the climate during that year. Together the rings make a solid and beautiful art piece. I marvel at my husband’s ability to turn a dull piece of wood into an impressive showpiece.

Appreciating his skill and the beauty of the wood reminded me of all the other skilled people I’ve relied on. If my husband’s artistic skill is the core growth ring, I’m dedicating the second ring to the author Bruce Bauer whose article “How Tree Rings Tell Time and Climate History” helped me research for this column. He pointed out that archaeologists have used tree growth rings to figure out the dates of major events such as when the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was constructed (nearly 1,500 years ago) and that the cliff dwellings lived at Mesa Verde National Park nearly 1,000 years ago. It’s fascinating and I’m grateful to the author and the archaeologists for the information. Thank goodness I didn’t have to figure it out myself.

I dedicate the third ring to the computer techs at Lake Delton’s Radio Shack. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to submit this column since my computer battery wasn’t charging. It only had 10% power left, and if I didn’t find a solution, I’d need to make an appointment, drive to Madison, and see if they could help. Thankfully local techs quickly diagnosed the problem, supplied the needed power adapter, and ten minutes later, I was happily on my way.

I’m dedicating the fourth ring to the marvelous dentist who performed the root canal that took away my throbbing pain last week.  I’m grateful for her skill and the minds that invented X-rays, anesthetic, and tools to perform the job. I’m also including all those who were involved in the production of Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

My car mechanic gets the fifth growth ring. He figured out why my tire is always leaking air and saved me from panicking yet again as I try to find a garage or gas station. Replacing the valve stem did the trick, and I’m back on the road with confidence again.

As I mail my tax information into an expert, I gratefully dedicate a solid ring to people who know what is meant by phrases such as “MACRS deductions for assets placed in service in tax years… ” Egads, I’m so thankful I don’t have to plow through figuring out tax forms.

And finally, as the nurse sets up the IV that will give me the treatment I need, I marvel at modern medicine. I dedicate a ring to healing drugs, to the sophisticated technology and equipment that make it all work, and to the health care workers administering it. This friendly nurse asked me about my career, and I explain that I was a teacher. “A teacher,” she said, shaking her head. “You were a saint. I could never be a teacher.”

I realize I need to keep counting and dedicating. Educators get a ring, too, along with the thousands of other jobs I’d have trouble doing. From electrical engineers, plumbers, musicians, garbage collectors, and ecologists, we all have our talents. Together, we can create a solid world, one full of glowing possibilities.

3 Replies to “Rings on a Tree”

Jane Govoni

You have made me think of a mindfulness exercise I do now and then as I sit to eat. I think of all the people that had a part in bringing me that food. I see hands that picked my fruit and the truck drivers that moved it as far as a store I found it at.

Thank you for commenting and for sharing that exercise, Jane. Now I’m going to do the same. It takes all of us sharing our talents. I’m glad you’re sharing yours.

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