Finding the Mother Tree – Date #4

This weekend’s dating adventure took me out to a talk sponsored by Nature Canada by Suzanne Simard, the author of Finding the Mother Tree. One of the ways that I have found to discover what might be happening in my community that would be good “date” material is by scrolling through the Eventbrite listings and seeing what is out there. This talk intrigued me because one of my book clubs had just finished reading “Finding the Mother Tree” and I had been listening to Suzanne Simard defend the book “Life in the City of Dirty Water” by Clayton Thomas-Muller on CBC Canada Reads. I partnered this event with another event that I found on Event Brite which was a fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank, with the Ottawa Guild of Potters – Great Bowls of Fire. The Great Bowls of Fire ticket allowed me to pick out a handcrafted and BEAUTIFUL bowl, as well as a multitude of choices of take-out soups and bread from so many different local restaurants.

This date allowed me to tap into a couple of things important to me. One, opportunities that are fundraisers for causes that are important to me are events that I am interested in. Being in a relationship often allowed me the opportunity to extend the invitation to my partner as an activity to do together. Two, opportunities to explore ideas that let me think about things differently stimulate my intellectual curiosity which is also an important part of my identity and something I look for in potential partners.

One of the things that I really appreciate about myself is that I do like a plan, and I particularly like when a plan comes together. Tonight was not that night. I had planned to attend the Great Bowls of Fire fundraiser, and then there was theoretically enough time to take my beautiful handcrafted bowl and fresh soup down to a park and sit and have my soup for my dinner before heading out to the evening talk. What I had not counted on is how long it would take at the Great Bowls of Fire – even though I arrived early – and that the takeaway soup would be cold. In hindsight, it makes sense that the soup would be available cold, I just had not planned for it. And due to COVID protocols, they were only allowing small numbers into each of the rooms at a time. It meant that things moved slowly. Since I had arrived early, I did have my pick of all the styles that were available.

I chose a beautiful blue bowl that had this light blue spiral on the inside of the bowl. It reminds me both of a shell and of the logo for community health centres. It also fits beautifully in my hands. After spending time perusing the handcrafted bowls, my bowl was carefully wrapped in plain newsprint paper to protect it for transport home and placed in a sturdy brown paper bag with handles. I was handed four tickets for soup sampling and headed up the flight of stairs to the second floor of the community centre for the soup options.

Now, I have to say that this event is a lovely event for a date night, or a get-together with friends. I greatly appreciated having four tickets for soup samples because there were so many to choose from, so I didn’t feel deprived that I wouldn’t be able to share soup with someone else, had there been someone else with me who might have been inclined to share. It took me a couple of circles around the room to finally land on my four samples – mushroom veloute, cheddar and broccoli, curried vegetable and roasted carrot and brie soup. There were several bread choices, but I wasn’t all that interested in the bread options having realized that the soup was in fact, not going to be my dinner tonight.

I was distracted for a bit by additional bowls that were for sale in the middle of the soup room and I allowed myself some time to wander around the table and pick up a second hand-crafted bowl for the evening. This bowl was also shades of blue, with a blue-flecked creamy interior. What I most loved about this bowl was its shape – it was quite deep for a soup bowl, with slight ridges alongside the outside of the bowl, plus a small little dimple on each side, about halfway up. It was the only one like it on the table, so I nabbed it.

What I thought might take me half an hour ended up taking me close to an hour and now I only had about an hour of time before the talk this evening. I was hungry and my cold soup was not going to cut it this evening. I headed back to my car and started driving in the direction of the church where the talk was going to be held. Parking was a challenge and so I ended up further down the street than I had planned. I ended up stopping at a little Thai restaurant and ordering pad thai as take-out and eating my dinner in my car, parked on the street about three blocks away from the church where the talk was being held.

I prefer to arrive early for things, and the talk was no exception. My daughter told me once that I think that I am on time when I am early, when I am on time, I am late and if I am actually late, I rather lose my shit. There is lots of truth in her observation. The flyer for the event suggested that people arrive starting at 6:15 pm so that there would be sufficient time to check everyone’s COVID vaccination status. I arrived shortly after 6:30 pm and found the first three rows of the church already filled with participants, masked, and chatting amongst themselves.

The even started right at 7 pm and Dr. Suzanne Simard was an engaging speaker. What I really enjoyed reading in Simard’s book was the revelation that trees are not solely a source of timber or pulp, but they have a complex and interdependent circle of life that not only connects tress to one another but also are social, cooperative creatures that are connected through their underground network and share a method of communicating and connecting communally in ways not all that different from our own. This level of connection happens across species and is essential for the bio-diversity of the forest. What is really amazing from her research is the discovery that the oldest trees in the forest are connected to over 80% of the vegetation in the forest area around them.

I describe myself as spiritual and not religious. For most of my life, I have believed that there is an energy that connects us all together and Simard’s book and talk reinforced some of that thinking. Somewhere along the line, I recall reading that Simard’s work formed the basis of the mythology of the Hometree and the sacred Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar. I can’t find the reference for it, but I can see the threads throughout the book.

After the talk there was an opportunity for people to ask questions, but I was done for the evening. After sitting for 90 minutes on church benches, my back and my butt were sore and uncomfortable. The beautiful thing about dating myself, is that there is no one else to negotiate with on my dates. I discretely and quietly stood up and walked to the back of the church and made my way out and into the quiet night. I walked back to my car, the sound of my cowgirl boots hitting the sidewalk as I strode back to the car.

What I appreciated about this date night was my willingness to adapt to changes in my dinner plans and to give myself full permission to be able to leave an event early when I just did not want to be there any more. It wasn’t that it was bad, I had just gotten what I wanted out of the evening.

This morning I woke up and felt a leap of joy and delight at finding my new handcrafted bowls sitting on the counter. I chose the deeper of the blue bowls – the one with all the ridges, speckled cream interior, and two little dimples on each side of the bowl. While I would only rate the date a 6/10, I really enjoyed taking the time to get ready to go out for the evening, to take delight in selecting a bowl for the evening, and listening to a conversation about a topic that I wanted to learn more about.

This was date number 4 and it was the date that I spent the most money on. My other dates were either free, or by donation, and at most I spent money on a latte. Tonight’s date cost me $55 for the Great Bowls of Fire and $25 for the Dr. Suzanne Simard talk. Spending money doesn’t necessarily make for a great date – it is honestly all about the intention and the energy that I bring to the events.

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