Marla Ferguson-Leak
Palisade, Colorado
2021

Story Info

Story & Experience

Two close friends and I came together under the large cherry tree in my yard that is dying due to an early freeze and an infestation of insects and a contagious fungus. I asked each person to bring something that represents something important and loved that they lost last year due to the pandemic and also something to represent a gift they received from the pandemic. One friend brought a copy of the instagram page from a good friend and former co-worker that had to be let go from their place of work due to the downturn in the economy. She was quite heartbroken that the business could no longer afford to pay for his many talents and all of the help that she received from him. This was the first time that she acknowledged how important a relationship that was/is and the grief involved in the changes from last year. Although she is still in contact with her friend/co-worker, just like life in general, things will never be the same.  The gift that she was given was time to re-evaluate what was really important in her life with her husband and child. They had the time to make some big changes based on those values. They bought new electric cars which helped them financially and are much better for the environment. They also were able to get a better hold on their monthly expenses and made enough changes to be able to find another home that better fits their values and budget. Without the impetus of the pandemic, they wouldn’t have made all of those changes which are for the better.

My other friend brought fresh thyme which was both the loss and her gift from last year. The loss had to do with time away from friends and various activities that have always brought her joy in the past. The gift of time though allowed her to spend more in depth time reading and learning online which during normal times wouldn’t have happened. She also had more time to travel to visit other family members that needed her help which was a blessing.

My loss was that of not being able to participate in my usual activities with friends. And it felt like friendships have waned and fallen away because of it. I used a pair of threadbare jeans as an example of how friendships have eroded or deteriorated because of not being able to get together in person. While friendships are always changing and evolving, it felt especially empty over the past year. My gift was being able to stay where we live. Our house and orchard were under contract to be sold last March when the pandemic was ramping up and we weren’t able to look at other properties and thought we were going to have to live in a hotel for a long time without a real place to call home. But with the economic changes, the buyer backed out of the contract and we were able to stay in our home. Because of that, we looked at our property differently and started to love where we are. We made lots of improvements and have more to come and have a new and exciting appreciation for where we are right now. Having that contract fall through was a real blessing for us and we are very happy here now.

Why this Place?

Palisade, Colorado

I chose this location on my property because the range of losses over the last year was too large to pick just one thing. And the cherry tree in my yard seemed to be a good symbol for all of the losses and gifts of the past year.

Act of Beauty

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The act of beauty was that I baked scones with the last of the dried cherries from our cherry tree last year and we ate them with joy and gratitude.  We thanked the tree for all of the joy that it has given us and all that it has provided for birds and other animals. We will have to cut down the tree this fall and it will continue to give even after that by providing firewood for the winter and also flavorful wood chips for the grill. Our cherry tree seemed to embody the many losses and sorrows of the past year as well as remembering the joys and gifts that have been provided.

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