On the first day of this newly minted year, I arrived at Council Point Park, just a little later than usual. That’s because firecrackers in the ‘hood were going off ‘til the wee hours of the morn, so I figured I could indulge myself and sleep in later.
I decided to drive and pulled into the parking lot to discover I was the only one there – the other walkers either took the day off, or arrived much earlier than me. (The gentleman who proclaimed the squirrels were too well fed arrived about an hour later.)
To access the perimeter path to the first loop, I must pass through the pavilion area. This is where I put all the seed treats on the picnic table under the pavilion roof. As I approached that area, two things immediately caught my eye: 1) Parker was scrambling over to meet me, and 2) the memorial tree for Brian Skinner looked very different.
I went over to look at that tree, with Parker trailing at my heels like a faithful dog.
You’ll recall the day after Thanksgiving I did a post about Brian Skinner’s memorial tree and the red and white wreaths that adorned it. Here it is to refresh your memory:
Unlike many of the other memorial trees at the Park, this one is tended to all year around by Brian’s loved ones. It is weeded, mulched and decorated for all the seasons or holidays. I noticed immediately that one of the wreaths had been replaced by a new wooden plaque with a picture of Brian. I perused the plaque carefully.
I saw some heartfelt words …
… and a collection of what looked to be some things that defined Brian.
Seeing the plaque, and reading the tribute verse, made me a little sad on this first day of 2019. The heartache for those left behind was obvious. Brian was a Mason, a Boy Scout leader, an avid sports fan and he loved his country. I decided then and there to have a few minutes to reflect on this man who was taken at age 41, and then take a few pictures of this tree to share with you.
But first … some peanuts for Parker, who had stood at my side, patiently awaiting his treats, and, amazingly, whether it was because it was just him and I at this venue, and not a single soul – furry or otherwise – close by, he never danced around, climbed on my shoes, or looked up at me with pleading eyes. He was content to sit there quietly at my side, as if he, too, was part of this reverent occasion.
Peace and tranquility sprinkled with a few peanuts.
I scattered a half-dozen of peanuts on the nearby path. Parker went and got one, and stayed, so unlike his usual self that scurries off to bury one or two.
Next Parker headed over to the mulch area beneath the tree, where he munched and watched me as I took some photos.
I must also mention that there has been a hairbrush laying in the mulch beneath the tree for a few weeks now.
At first, I thought someone just dropped it, and it remained there, but obviously a family member had returned to take away one wreath and replace it with this plaque, yet they did not discard the hairbrush – perhaps it was Brian’s? I understand from other walkers that they have seen family members gather around the tree, perhaps those loved ones mentioned in the tribute verse, and one walker told me he had been a Boy Scout leader, as had Brian, and the two had taken their scouts camping many years ago in this very Park.
Parker slipped away from beneath the tree, but still within my peripheral vision, and he took another peanut and jumped up on the adjacent blue metal Park bench seat portion where he continued to watch me.
He was just a stone’s throw away the entire time I was taking pictures.
Check out the fuzzy tail trailing out the back of the park bench.
While I took a few more pictures, Parker continued watching me with rapt attention.
At times, he never moved a muscle.
Should I feel his forehead? Where is the little squirrel who is usually a bundle of energy? Parker seemed content to sit nearby, and, when I was done taking the pictures of Brian Skinner’s tree and plaque, I was reluctant to leave.
So we both stayed there a little longer – after all, what was our hurry to go anywhere on this peaceful morning, each alone in our thoughts? The serenity was finally broken when I decided we should probably move on and head down the perimeter path. Parker once again walked alongside me until we spotted the rest of his pals and then bedlam arose, with furry bodies scurrying every which way – you all know that familiar scenario by now.
I thought of Brian Skinner today as I walked past his memorial tree – today was the 17th anniversary of his untimely passing.