Grandpa Spruce

Aug 11, 2014 by

by Patricia Reid

The one thread running through my childhood was isolation on father’s trapline. We lived a nomadic lifestyle often moving on father’s whims. We were hunters and gathers not farmers. Father hated farming.

How I yearned for friendships in my youth. I did have an older sister and a younger brother whom I sometimes liked but mostly fought with too much.

I wanted an independent friend that I could lean on when life became almost too hard to survive. I wanted someone to be on my side no matter what happened. I wanted an independent adult in my life. So in my anguish to have support in my life I turned to nature for companionship. In the end I adopted a spruce tree to help me in my life and to be my grandpa. I picked the largest defender I could locate.

I didn’t know what a grandpa would be like as I had never had one in my life. I did know that I wanted a big support in my life. I adopted the largest spruce tree that I could find in the forest. It had large roots showing above the ground and the girth was so big that it would have taken three or four people to circle its trunk with their arms.

Sometimes I would visit it when food was so absent in my life that I needed to know someone was looking out for me. In winter I would stand by it and put my arms around it as far as they would go and half crying ask it to help me survive. It gave me great comfort to hug it. In summertime I would sit on the ground in between its large roots and lean my back against its strong trunk.

He was my safe place. It was as if he were hugging me.He was my protector and the one who loved me unconditionally no matter what I did or what was happening in my life. Sometimes he came to me in my dreams when I was so famished and he reassured me that I was going to survive.

If only I had known more about him I would have suffered less. I did learn that I could count on him to give me spruce gum which came in various colours and added joy to my life. If I had only known when I was little that his spring buds held vitamin C, he would have prevented the scurvey I suffered with as a child.

When I left father’s trapline I entered a world of deciduous trees. I found them to be quite foreign to me, and so I searched out spruce trees. I would touch the tip of the trees when I was alone to get strength from them. I never told anyone what I did. It was between me and Grandpa Spruce. I still do that to this day . When I touch the tips of the spruce boughs I not only feel more strength coming into my body but it washes away my stress and like meditation my body calms down . Then I am able to make better decisions about what is happening in my life.

Patricia Reid is a member of University in the Community alumni writing group.

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  1. This post is awareness that is everyone’s that is worth. When can I discover more?

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