This reflection came to me as I was trimming and removing multiple leaders from the trees. For some context, the top point of the tree (where you'd place a star or an angel) is called the leader. Sometimes a tree will develop more than one, and the additional leaders need to be cut down to avoid the appearance and development of split trees. It doesn't look great in your living room, and it doesn't promote even or healthy growth for the tree. This comparison to leaders in general literally hit me on the head as I was trimming. (It's a hazard of the job, being much shorter than many of our trees.) Here's my unpopular opinion: Not every branch (person?) is a leader. At least not always, in all ways. And then perhaps an even less popular opinion: Not every branch (person?) needs to be a leader. I can say this because I am not a typical leader. I say this for those of us who can hold our own, take up space, be ourselves, but not necessarily be described this way. It's an okay and necessary balance. Too many leaders creates too much competition, and not a lot of growth. It made me feel good about where we're at in this journey. It can be just as beautiful and brave to follow and protect the integrity of the tree. I think we're still talking about trees, right?
If we can accept that each branch is not always a leader in all ways, maybe we can acknowledge that the rest of us aren't either. Accepting parts of this summer as following instead of leading brought about a lot of joy. Because we did much more than manage leaders this summer! It was a very dry spring and summer, so we spent a lot of time improving our ability to water trees and then trying to get as much water on them as we could with our basic sand point well set up. This occupied much of our time in June. A benefit to the heat and lack of rain was that the demand for mowing the grass and weeds was lessened. As the weather normalized, mowing became more time consuming. We're grateful our branch manager was willing to expand his role and help with this responsibility. The next major job after managing leaders, watering, and mowing was sheering trees. Don't worry, many trees still look or are "natural", but we can all use some guidance every once and awhile. My mornings with the boys, some solo evenings for Dan and me, and family weekends were filled with these activities. Speaking of the boys, they found entertainment at the farm by catching frogs, raising monarch butterflies, and perfecting their kickball game. The adventures stayed with us as we never came home clean--finding needles in the pockets of our clothes, mud between our toes from the creek, and grass stains on our knees from sliding into second base. It was another full summer of work and play.
We had the opportunity to share the farm with family and friends as we hosted an event or two and also had unplanned play dates as neighbor kids joined the adventures. The more kids for kickball, the better. Dan also opened up more exploration when he added trails and built bridges beyond the tree farm, a true feat of engineering genius and a testament of his physical strength. I believe I used the words "Superhuman" to describe him the other day. Some of us, turns out, are essential leaders!
We're rounding off the summer and getting ready for cooler weather and more structure. Each year, the farm never fails to bring out a new appreciation for all of the seasons. Each season of togetherness is a gift. One leads and another follows, each in perfect rhythm. At the end of summer and beginning of fall, we feel right where we should be in all ways.