A photo of the old tree root. It was located in Old Beavertown, in the forest behind the old Mabey Homestead.
The Old Tree Root
By Richard Mabey Jr.
At 62, I find myself becoming more and more disenchanted with the concept of a gated community. Living in Florida, now for seven years, I find myself longing for the change of seasons. And, yes, even missing the falling snow. I know how crazy that may sound.
The biggest problem with living in one of these “retirement communities” is that very few people are really retired. Most people are working one or two part time jobs. A person ends up working two part time jobs, because in grand old Florida it is nearly impossible to find a full time job. And, for those you who say, “there’s jobs out there.” With all the kindness and respect that I can muster in my heart, I simply reply to that statement, “try to find one.” The places of business are just short of putting up a sign in one of their windows that reads, “Full Time Help Wanted: Seniors Need Not Apply!”
In my job, as a Security Guard, I find myself thinking more and more of Old Beavertown and my Old Kentucky Home. A strange remembrance haunts me of late. My mind keeps picturing the old tree root that lied on the forest floor, in the woods behind the old Mabey Homestead. It was a unique looking thing. If you used your imagination, even just a little bit, you could find all kinds of things lying within the twisted roots. From a certain angle, I often could see an angel, with wide-spread wings.
I remember that I was so impressed with the old tree root that I took a picture of it. This is back, in the late seventies, before digital cameras. You would only get 24 pictures per roll of film. Then, after taking the 24 pictures, you would have to run the roll of film down to the drug store to get it developed. Usually it would take a couple of days for them to develop your film. So, each and every picture that you took, was precious.
It was around 1980 that I first discovered the old tree root. It was just one of the fascinating aspects of the many acres of forest that ran behind the old Mabey Homestead. If you took the time, and looked carefully, you would be almost guaranteed to find a Native American arrowhead. It took patience and perseverance, but there were arrowheads to be found.
In 1980, I was working in the Marketing Services Department of a manufacturer of toothbrushes. At the same time, I was taking a lot of different classes and seminars in creative writing. I would often get up early on a Saturday morning and walk down to the remaining portion of the old Morris Canal that was located about a half mile behind my house. It was a time to reflect, to dream, to set life goals and to get in touch with my inner self.
I know that this may sound a bit Twilight Zone, but the old tree root would almost seem to speak to me. It was such an interesting weave of twisted root branches. I often regret that I didn’t save it. But, as I am rapidly learning at this point in my life, at a certain point in life you have to downsize and give a lot of things away. For truly, you’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.
Today, there is a large housing development where the forest once proudly stood. Some money hungry developer cut hundreds upon hundreds of trees down, in order to build a lot of huge McMansion homes. Each overzised home sitting upon a postage stamp lot. Just one of the backward stages of progress that plagues northern New Jersey.
Sometimes, when I reflect upon those days of being in my mid to late twenties, I realize that some of the greatest lessons that I learned were not from sitting at the foot of a pompous professor. Rather, some of the greatest lessons I learned in my youth, were from the result of taking the time to walk the forest path and get in tune with my true self. And, of course, to find the angel’s wings hidden in the old tree root.
Peace and harmony,