From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

The Lovers

His wife was away visiting family, so he took time to explore some unfamiliar hiking trails. His choice that late summer day was the Morris Creek grove of old-growth western red cedars in northern Idaho.

The short walk from the road to the massive trees was through a field abloom. Showy scarlet Indian paintbrush mingled and yet contrasted with white daisy-like flowers. There were a dozen or more varieties of wildflowers blooming in various hues. It was a picture you would see on a postcard, but there it was in real life. He made a mental note to buy a wildflower field guide so he could identify them.

The old, tall trees were not far up the gently sloping hillside. Not far into the eighty-acre grove, an odd tree twenty feet off the path caught his eye. He moved slightly up the path to view the tree from a different angle. It was then he realized that there were actually two trees. The larger of the two cedars was as big around as a large refrigerator and taller than two bus lengths. Immediately beside it was a smaller tree, perhaps two-thirds the girth of the larger. The trees had distinctly different root systems, but rose vertically from the forest floor side by side. For the first eight or ten feet of their height there was no space between them and then an inch or two for twenty feet, and again none for another twenty feet, where again they stood apart ever so slightly.

About twenty feet above eye level the larger cedar had a bough that looped out from its trunk and then divided into two smaller limbs. The first division of the branch was a substantial tendril that followed the curve of the smaller tree’s trunk in a wooden embrace. The second fork of the branch subdivided several more times until it mingled with twigs from a branch of the smaller tree, becoming visually indistinct, like fingers laced together when two lovers hold hands.

“The Lovers” he mentally labeled the trees. These lovers started their embrace before Sacagawea led Lewis and Clark in their nearby westward trek. These lovers stood side by side in their adolescence, during a time before the United States was a nation.

His mind shifted to his wife on the other side of that nation. Her return had been delayed, and she would be away yet another week. Her return was now delayed until the day after their anniversary. It was amazing how much he missed her, and he wished she was with him at that moment, looking at “The Lovers.”

He contemplated their relationship. In spite of his temporary loneliness and in fact in conspiracy with that feeling, he still felt he was the luckiest man alive. He had been fortunate enough to be formed, to stand side by side, to embrace and hold hands with his wife, his lover, his friend for thirty years. They will not make three centuries, as the old lovers in the forest have, but each day with her in his life was a blessing. He knew this.

He also knew he would return to this spot one day soon, wife by his side, and he would stop in front of “The Lovers.” He would put one arm around her, hold her hand with the other, and show her the two old trees and say, “This is you and I, my love.”

Daniel James

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