Conscious Cat Sunday: Lesson from a Maple Tree (and My Cats)

Ruby cat maple tree fall

You will find something more in woods than in books.
Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. – St. Bernard

I previously introduced you to the maple tree outside my bedroom and explained its significance in my life in My Cats and The Maple Tree.  Each fall, it’s one of the last trees to turn, and when it does, it turns the most incredibly bright, vibrant red. When the light is just right, my entire bedroom is infused with a red glow from the tree. The glory only lasts for a few days, and each year, I look forward to it.

This year, the tree turned slower than normal, but our entire fall has been a bit odd. Then, last Saturday, we got snow. This was a first. I’d never seen snow on the maple in the twenty-seven years I’ve lived in this house. It was only a dusting, but it was oddly disorienting to see the big, fat snow flakes against the red leaves. Apparently, the cold snap brought its own reward: three days after the storm, the tree reached its peak.

I always make a point to take some time to truly enjoy the tree while it’s at peak color. I hope for sunny weather during those few days, because when the sun hits the tree just right in the afternoon, the color is magnificent.

I had a busy week, but on Tuesday, despite a to do list a mile long, I dropped everything and simply sat by my window for an hour in the middle of the afternoon. I let myself soak up the brilliant light of the tree. Ruby and Allegra joined me for a little while before they got bored and wandered off to do cat things.

And afterwards, I felt absolutely amazing. Allowing myself to take an hour, in the middle of a busy day, to do nothing without feeling guilty about it, was a wonderful experience. I felt grounded and peaceful. I also felt energized and went back to work with renewed enthusiasm.

Doing nothing without feeling guilty is something all my cats have taught me over the years. And my maple tree is reinforcing the lesson. As a culture, we tend to always feel rushed, and many consider being busy a badge of honor. However, there is great value in doing nothing, in simply being. I think Winnie the Pooh had it right when he said “don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

cat with red maple

Perhaps we all need a reminder at times to stop doing and to simply be. Our cats do a pretty good job of helping us remember. Between my cats, and my maple tree, I think I’ve got it covered.

What about you? Do you allow yourself to do nothing without feeling guilty about it?

19 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: Lesson from a Maple Tree (and My Cats)

  1. Azar Attura
    November 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm (10 years ago)

    Well, once I “zoned out” while sitting next to my fish tank. In this tank was a sweet goldfish named Clyde. Unbeknownst to me, Clyde swam over to say hi and was watching me thru the tank’s glass. When he realized I was not watching him, he started to swim away — but at the very moment, I looked up and saw him and we BOTH had an “Aha! There you are!” moment – he turned around, swam back to me and we interacted. (I speak fluent “goldfish” BTW. My goldfish — all 7 tanks of them [many of whom lived to be 5 and 6 yrs old] — taught me how.)

  2. Katnip Lounge
    November 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm (10 years ago)

    I never was able to “be” until I had my surgery this past spring. My only “job” was to rest, gently walk, and heal. It was the best five weeks! I try for time like that every weekend now, and I enjoy it tremendously.

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm (10 years ago)

      I’m sorry that you had to learn the hard way to just be, but glad you’ve made it a regular part of your weekend routine.

  3. candace nagle
    November 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm (10 years ago)

    Reading your post, I realized you are from The Tribe of Joseph…a Kindred Spirit…as Anne of Green Gables would say. I recently was off work for a shoulder surgery and was able to access my own pace…not the pace of the world…my own precious pace. It was heaven to watch spider webs change, plum tree leaves turn into garnet hearts, and to have long peaceful afternoons with the cats. From that time, I have begun to call this type of experience “being in Sacred Time”…where money, guilt productivity, etc. are not primary values. In Sacred Time, communing with life in the moment is all that matters. And somehow, being in that space, even for a short stay, is a great source of equanimity that can then inform all of my time…keep me grounded for participating in the whirlwindy world. I am so glad that you have a magic maple tree and two beautiful cat souls to share it with and that you know you are blessed.

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm (10 years ago)

      What a lovely comment, Candace. I love the expression “being in Scared Time.”

  4. Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey
    November 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm (10 years ago)

    Ingrid – what a lovely story. You have struck a cord with me. Interestingly, while I do not have the imagery of the beautiful maple tree, I was outside gardening yesterday and my post for this coming Saturday hit me full force and the message was the same as yours. We need to slow down, and we need to do it without guilt.

    I really enjoyed your post and I am trying to learn to take it to heart. It is a process, and I applaud you for reveling in the simple joys of life. Since you read my book, I know you can understand that I would clearly call that a prime example of an “O” to “E” moment!!

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm (10 years ago)

      I can’t wait to see your post on Saturday, Deb. And yes, absolutely, taking time for the simple joys in life definitely transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

  5. Layla Morgan Wilde
    November 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm (10 years ago)

    You know I do exactly the same thing especially when I crazy busy. That’s the time to ramp it down and nothing grounds us faster or more naturally than nature. It’s a gem of a meditation from your two rubies: the ruby and amber leaves of your maple, and Ruby and Amber.

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm (10 years ago)

      Layla, that’s beautiful! I’ve always felt that the autumn light really brings out the colors in torties’ coats, but I never made the connection between Amber and Ruby and the colors of my tree.

  6. maru
    November 6, 2011 at 11:21 am (10 years ago)

    I should do it more often… what I allow myself to do is taking breaks off house chores to sit at my PC and read my email, subscriptions (like this one) or going to G+… that is a nice change… actually I am doing it now.
    Enjoyed this new ‘chapter’ in your story with the mapple tree… it made me wonder if you have considered writing about that tree.

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm (10 years ago)

      I had never thought about writing more about the tree, but now you’ve got me thinking, Maru!

      • maru
        November 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm (10 years ago)

        I’m glad you are thinking of it, it is a wonderful subject for a long or a short story… full of possitive images and life lessons.
        We can find masters in amazing forms.

  7. caren gittleman
    November 6, 2011 at 10:09 am (10 years ago)

    “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” John Lennon

    I agree wholeheartedly but can’t seem to shake the “guilts”

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm (10 years ago)

      Caren, I view these breaks as part of my work. If I can’t take care of myself, I won’t have anything left to give to anyone else, inlcuding my readers.

      • caren gittleman
        November 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm (10 years ago)

        I agree wholeheartedly…it’s just getting me to DO that…….

  8. Deborah Julian
    November 6, 2011 at 9:07 am (10 years ago)

    Ingrid, thanks for sharing this. I am always feeling rushed these days as my cat art business develops. I am preparing to be a vendor at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market in New York City and there is so much to do before it opens on Nov 30th. My sweet curious cats always want to be a part of everything I do–whether it’s creating my art, packaging it, photographing it…I love having time with them–even though it takes longer to do things with they are involved– but sometimes their “help” adds to my stress level–especially when Sammy decides he wants to eat some of my packaging materials. I came to the conclusion yesterday that the cats are trying to teach me to relax and enjoy the moment. Eating the materials is just a way to get my attention. I should just take a break and explore and play with them. It’s a good lesson to learn.

    Deborah Julian

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm (10 years ago)

      Thank goodness you got the lesson before Sammy had to actually eat the packing materials to make his point, Debbie!

  9. Max the Quilt Cat
    November 6, 2011 at 6:31 am (10 years ago)

    It’s amazing what cold does to lots of plants. My neighbor brought me two lemons from his yard. They were completely green. When I asked about that, he said that they don’t turn yellow until after the first cold snap here in Florida. Amazing to have two color lessons in one week. Thanks.

    pawhugs, Max

    • Ingrid
      November 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm (10 years ago)

      I never knew that about lemons, Max!


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