A friend and I like to walk on the bike path which circles Lake Baldwin in Orlando. The strip of land between the lake and the path is a natural habitat for a variety of plants and animals. Bald eagles and coyotes are among the local residents and I am always on the lookout for photo opportunities.
One morning something seemed out of place in the green landscape. We stepped closer to see a small package wrapped in red paper nestled among the needles of a bushy pine. “I think this the beginning of something,” I chuckled to my friend. In addition to the package, a shiny piece of garland adorned one side of the tree. We agreed the decorations must be someone’s idea of a joke in order to tease passersby to add more ornaments.
A few days later I walked my usual route and noticed many more decorations on the tree. A red and green bow served as a tree topper and bright ribbons spiraled the limbs. Then I noticed a note at the base of the tree inviting the community to add more ornaments in memory of “Bob.”
The author of the note shared a few details about Bob’s life. He loved to walk the path around the lake and started the tradition of decorating the small tree in 2020. Sadly, two months later Bob died from Covid 19. His family wants to continue the tradition in his memory and refers to the evergreen as the Community Tree of Baldwin Park.
The note touched my heart. This was not a joke but a serious memorial to a husband and father I never knew. This humble tree is very different from all the glitz and glamor of the Christmas tree in the Neighborhood Center of Baldwin Park. I prefer Bob’s tree because it represents the people from all walks of life who frequent the bike trail.
I never knew Bob, but I have a feeling I would like him. We have a common bond. He loved nature, walking, and Christmas.
December is a bittersweet time for many folks. I pray the Community Tree comforts Bob’s family as this will be their first Christmas with out him. Tomorrow I think I’ll visit the tree again and if there’s any space left, add a small token to tell Bob’s family they are not alone.