A couple of weeks ago we were hit with an early-season snowstorm. The snow was wet and heavy and piled on to trees that were still wearing their gorgeous russet fall leaves.

The result was devastation.

Huge cottonwoods cracked under the pressure and lost branches.  But they weren’t alone.

Trees of all shapes and sizes broke under the weight of the snow. The sound of cracking limbs, sharp as gunshot echoed in the night.

Now each day as I make my way out to the pasture to feed my two old sweeties, I pass by a landscaping company that has become a repository for mountains of tree branches. I often must wait because a flagman has halted traffic to make way for the funeral-like procession of trucks bearing dead trees.

In town we were instructed to pile our tree limbs by the side of the road, and eventually one of the trucks will make its way to our street, and cart the limbs away. City officials who estimate such things, tell us it will take somewhere around four weeks to get to every street.

At the landscaping company, I watch as the mountain of dead trees expands. It looks as if they are getting ready for the mother of all bonfires, though in fact what they are doing is shredding the trees into mulch, as fast as they possibly can.

This whole experience – the snow, breaking limbs and the clean-up effort has got me thinking about flexibility. Why is it some trees cracked under the pressure, while others didn’t?

I know it has something to do with the leaves still hanging on and the flexibility of the branches.

Those few trees that had lost their leaves early, fared well in this storm, as did young trees that hadn’t yet grown thick, strong branches.

There’s a saying rumbling around in my head, though I can’t quote it accurately, and can’t even remember where I first heard it. My version goes like this: In life, learn to be a willow that can bend, rather than a cottonwood that remains rigid and in danger of breaking.

And that’s the nubbin of truth that I keep pondering.

I want to remain pliable and able to bend with what life brings my way. I don’t want to crack under the weight of life events that come out of the blue.

Because they will, and they do.

Life is full of snowstorms or their equivalent, and deep in my heart I know that I want to weather them. Seeing those piles and piles of dead tree branches on nearly every street in town reminds me to stay flexible, or become flexible, if I’m not.

Rigidity sometimes accompanies aging.

Bodies don’t bend as they once did. Neither do attitudes. We become set in our ways – body and mind. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to be one of those stately old cottonwoods, beautiful, but unable to hold up under the pressure of a surprise storm.

Because this I know: Unlike that cottonwood, I have a choice about my own personal flexibility.

You do too!

And I want to be ready for the next storm. No cracking limbs for me.

So, maybe I’ll see you in a yoga class!

Or Pilates.

Or meditating.

What do you say? Let’s get “bendy.”

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