I visited a park tonight during my evening walk. I read plaques on the benches, laid there to honour people who had died. I wondered about what kind of people they were, why they died and what motivates people to honour their dead this way.
I thought about time and memory, how a plaque sort of immortalizes a person. I wondered how long the plaques had been there, if loved ones came to visit it. I thought about all the plaques endured. The snow, the rain.
Then I walked over to read a large plaque under a tree. The words on it said that the tree had been planted to commemorate the official opening of the park. In 1991. I gulped when I read the year. 1991. I looked at the tree and craned my neck back and back until the whole thing was in my field of vision.
I calculated in my head that I would have been five years old when that tree was planted. I was five years older than something so big, so mature. How could that be?
My mind flashed back to the small tree I planted with my Granddad in my grandparents' large yard when I was small. When my family went to my grandparents a few times a year, I always looked over to the area where we planted my tree, expecting to see a tall tree. I was always disappointed that it was still so small that I could only see it if I walked closer. And my tree always looked so fragile and young. I knew it wouldn't even make good firewood. In my teens I stopped looking over to see a big tree. I didn't walk over to examine its progress.
I walked out of the park wondering when time had accelerated. When did these trees decide to get big? Do the loved ones wonder the same thing when they visit the park to mourn their dead?