Beliefnet
There's a spot I love to visit just a few miles from my home. The road passes on the very edge of a state forest. The hikers can follow a trail along the ever-changing creek, stopping along the way to view a few waterfalls. Closer to the parking area, one can wander in far enough to feel disconnected from the world, yet comfortably close.
 
A few pine trees create a ceiling that blocks the sun on a hot day, making it a perfect place to enjoy the shade.  Mixed in among the natural setting are a few trees I think are dogwood. I'm not good at recognizing the varieties that make this area so beautiful, but these burst into beautiful small white flowers right around this time of year. The sun shines softly through these branches, lighting the forest floor.
 
I have a spot I call my own. I love to sit there and for a few brief moments not think at all.
 
On this visit I could hear the faint crunch of footsteps approaching from behind me. I am not much of an outdoorsman, so footsteps in the woods only brought on images of bears or dinosaurs. Okay, that's the kid in me thinking dinosaurs. Maybe an elephant or dragon.
 
"Hello! I hope you don't mind me sneaking up on you."
 
I looked around and couldn't see anyone. All I heard was a sweet, almost angelic voice coming from somewhere.
 
Then, suddenly she appeared from behind a huge tree. "I know it was right around here. I can remember that tree," she said.
 
Even though the sun was shining, she was all bundled up with a sweater and scarf. She stood about 5 feet tall, if that. I would guess she had to be in her late sixties.
 
"May I ask what you are looking for?" I said.
 
"Yesterday," she replied.
 
"I think it went that way with last week," I said, laughing.
 
"Oh, I came here in search of something, a memory I need to revisit," she said.
 
Well, you know she had my attention now. 
"So, you left it here?"
 
"I could swear it was that tree. Or maybe that one."
 
"Let me guess,” I said. “You carved your initials in a tree many years ago, and you need to find them again."
 
She turned slowly toward me cocking her head slightly and asked, "How did you know?"
 
"You look like you were loved all your life," I said.
 
Her shoulders sank abruptly. "From the day we met," she whispered.
 
"And until you meet again," I added.
 
She nodded. "You understand, don’t you…"
 
I said, "I am an old romantic."
 
"I know they’re here somewhere," she insisted. Then she began to count her steps from one tree to another. "Ten this way and 22 that way. It was Oct. 22, that year. That's how he told me to remember it."
 
Suddenly she stopped. Standing next to a tree she glanced down at the base and then raising her hand above her head she said quietly, "This tall. He was this tall...oh, I shrank a bit, but he was just about to here."
 
She then began to walk slowly around the tree looking up and down. She sighed in frustration.
 
"I know this was our tree. He called it ‘The Sweetheart Tree,’" she said. "There was a popular song at the time... "
 
I knew it, and, never one to be shy, I began to sing the beautiful tune by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini:
 
"They say there's a tree in the forest,
A tree that will give you a sign;
Come along with me to the Sweetheart Tree,
Come and carve your name next to mine.
They say if you kiss the right sweetheart,
The one you've been waiting for,
Big blossoms of white will burst into sight
And your love will be true evermore."  *
 
 "That’s it!" she whispered as she placed her hand gently over her mouth.
 
"You don’t need to find the carving in the tree to realize, like the song says, "Your love will be true evermore."
 
Now, you might think I made this one up...but just then a breeze passed through, carrying with it the first falling blossoms of a nearby tree.
 
"A tree that will give you a sign," I said in amazement.
 
"Thank you," she said, satisfied, and walked away.
 
If you ask what I value most about life...it’s love. To love and to be loved.


*'The Sweetheart Tree,' Words & Music by Johnny Mercer & Henry Mancini; recorded by Henry Mancini, 1965. From the movie 'The Great Race.'
 
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