The crispness of that October morning swiftly reminded me that I was no longer in Texas. My reality was further reinforced as I scanned the scenery surrounding me. The colors were stunning and unfamiliar. Green, yellow, orange, and red leaves dressed the trees while the overcast sky and luscious green grass created the classic elements of a Michigan fall day.
A trip to Michigan years earlier had introduced me to the beauty that comes as the leaves change colors, but growing up in South Texas, this was an uncommon sight. Driving around town that crisp, fall day, I felt anxious and hopeful that we would find a place to call home that featured the beauty that Michigan had to offer. We passed a small sign next to a simple mailbox that said “For Rent” as we were driving and my friend encouraged Darin to turn the car around to see what we had missed. As we drove past the sign a second time, we noticed an extremely long driveway and decided to drive up, on the chance that a house might be for rent.
The tree-lined drive was spectacular and the large fields to the right of the driveway made it feel like we were in the country even though we were in the middle of town. As we approached the top of the driveway, we saw a small house and realized that it was indeed for rent. We peered through the windows hoping to see what was inside and actually got caught “peeping in” when the landlord arrived to meet a contractor. The house was perfectly “us” and I remember thinking that it was way too good to be true. It was an old farmhouse, and we would be the first family to live in the space since it was renovated. The house was beautiful and clean, which felt important as we had a two year old and another child on the way. As we walked back to the car, I stopped to remember the view, wondering if this was the place that we would call home.
That day was two years ago. The house became ours and we began living life in this space that God provided for us. This summer, we had a major storm that destroyed many of the trees that lined the driveway, including the three largest trees closest to the house. As the crew came to clear away the debris and cut down the trees I felt both a deep ache in my heart along with gratitude. I was grateful that my family was not harmed during the storm, and I was also grieving the loss of the trees. When the last truck drove away, I walked out and picked up part of the debris that had been left behind, tucking it away in the garage.
With our three largest trees gone this fall, I am missing part of the beauty that once lined our drive. I hold pictures in my mind of my sons playing around these trees. I found my tearful self wondering about the stories they could tell. Who else enjoyed the protection, play, shade, enjoyment, and beauty that they provided? Will the wood from our trees be reclaimed and repurposed to create something beautiful? Will it be used to provide warmth as it is added to a fire? What conversations will happen around those trees?
I recently picked up the stump that I placed in the garage that day. As I looked it over, I could see the places where it was broken and worn. The chainsaw left a large gash, and yet it remained intact. I decided to preserve it just as it was. I want to remember one of the things that first made our Michigan house become our home.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.