High Water Marks
Just outside of town, the empty fields are ringed with trees that have been marked. You can see it even at a distance: a perfectly horizontal line marking every tree for miles.
It’s the high-water mark.
Above the line, foliage is green and growing. Below the line both bark and treeless branches are covered with a grayish-brown film like the haze left on the sides of a bathtub with a too-slow drain.
In a few days or weeks or months, the highwater mark will have faded. While images of the flood will remain lodged in this community’s living memory for quite some time, soon we will no longer be able to point and say, “The water got clear up to here!”
Every time I drive past these two-tone trees, I consider the high-water marks of life: the milestones or transitions or moments that marked both the beginning and the end.
Twenty years ago this month, I was graduating high school: a high-water mark, too be sure. In the fall, my twenty-year class reunion will be held – strangely enough – on the day of the my 38th birthday. There’s some strange irony in that.
In honor of life’s high-water marks, here is a quote from Scott Simon (of NPR). It reminds me that not all of life’s transitions can be marked by a cap and gown; not all of our beginnings /endings are moments for pomp and circumstance.
“Let life change you. You’ve worked hard and learned a lot. But if you live well, you’re going to know love, loss, confusion and failure—life’s truest teachers. Real life can shatter certainties like a delicate cup in a tornado. Keep learning. Be inconsistent. Don’t have a rich, full life only to wind up at 40 with the same convictions you had when you were 20. Let life in.” (Scott Simon on NPR)