The evergreen at the end of Mabey Lane stood proud and dignified, even when carrying the weight of a heavy snowfall.
The Evergreen on Mabey Lane
By Richard Mabey Jr.
The Christmas of 1996 was a distinctively different Christmas for me. For it was in 1996 that I left my job as writer in the Public Relations Department of Amalgamated Consolidated Telephone Communications, Incorporated. The company had been changing for some time and it was not for the better. They were in the midst of doing a massive layoff, downsizing thousands upon thousands of loyal and hard-working employees. I still had my night jobs of teaching Creative Writing at the adult school program and teaching at a local college. And, I still was producing and hosting a television talk show, seen on the Cable Television Network of New Jersey. It was just time to move on and say farewell to Amalgamated. Also, I was writing a lot of articles for The Weekly News, a regional weekly newspaper that was circulated in at least a dozen towns throughout northern New Jersey.
For me, there was a certain eerie feeling that seemed to stir at the end of Mabey Lane, where the old path to the old Morris Canal began.
It was a funny thing. I don’t know where the idea came from. But, I had this idea to cut down one of the evergreens in the forest at the end of Mabey Lane. I don’t know what it was. When I was about eight or nine years; my grandpa, my dad and I walked the path, at the end of Mabey Lane, that led to the old Morris Canal. Grandpa spied a wonderful, majestic evergreen. So, with a hatchet and an old saw, we cut down that wonderful pine tree for our Christmas tree that year. I’m not saying it was right, but it was a kind of coming of age moment for me. A kind of first step into manhood.
An old photo of myself, as a very young boy, with Grandma and Grandpa Mabey. My grandfather often shared with me some of the tales and legends of life along the old Morris Canal.
I think that in mid December of 1996, at the age of 43, I was trying to recreate that moment in time when Dad, Grandpa and I cut down the old evergreen tree in the woods near the end of Mabey Lane. Now, as I looked at that endearing evergreen tree, all covered with snow, it seemed so wrong to cut it down. After all, we still had the old artificial Christmas tree in the attic. It certainly would make the grade another year. When all was said and done, I just didn’t have the heart to cut down that wonderful evergreen. It just seemed so wrong.
A photo of the evergreen, at the end of Mabey Lane, as I remember how it looked in the summer time. I have not been to the end of Mabey Lane in over 10 years. I do hope that this dear old evergreen is still standing tall and proud.
As I turned away from that glorious evergreen, I walked further down Mabey Lane, where the wooded path began that led to Incline Plane Ten East. An eerie feeling came over me. I felt, ever so strongly, the presence of my beloved grandfather, Watson Mabey. My grandfather had built the house at the end of Mabey Lane when he was a young man. He walked the path, from the home that he built to Incline Plane East Ten, probably more than a thousand times. Not to sound too far out there, but as I looked out to the old forest path, I am sure that I saw the ghost of my dear and beloved Grandpa walking along the path.
A rare photo of my grandfather, Watson Mabey, walking down the forest path that led from the end of Mabey Lane to the old Morris Canal.
Each and every one of us, searches and finds our own truth in life. Can love be limited? Can the incredible power of the Divine One be limited? Who is to say what is truly reality? I loved my grandfather, Watson Mabey, very dearly. Perhaps on that wintry day, in mid December of 1996, I really did see the ghost of my beloved grandpa. I know one thing is for sure, I am immensely grateful that I did not cut down that wonderful and beautiful evergreen on that cold, snowy day in December. When I look back, I don’t know what I was thinking to even consider cutting down that proud old evergreen at the end of Mabey Lane.