As I live like a leaf gleefully tossed about in the breeze I notice more and more how kindness is who we are. There is something about helping that is us being us. There’s been a shift: in the previous sentence I initially wrote “There is something about helping others…” but it felt wrong as it was leaving my fingers. It seems what is being seen is that there is no other to help. We truly are sharing kindness with ourselves.

Trees may know this better than we do. In The Forest there is a network of roots and underground highways to communicate and deliver nutrients. Trees warn each other of insects and disease. If a tree is ill, those around it send more of what it needs. One could see this as the trees being kind, but it seems truer that the trees haven’t been burdened with the thought that they are separate. What seems like kindness isn’t one tree helping another, it’s living.

There is a phrase I hear in my head often: “Angels are everywhere.” The kindness of strangers blows me away. Two nights ago I arrived deep in the forest at the paradise I am resting in now. My home on wheels and I traveled many miles down a meandering narrow gravel road to a lake deep in the Canadian wilderness.

Once committed to the journey toward the lake, there was no turning back as the road was just wider than a driveway.  I arrived at the camp and found a tiny utopia on a wooded lake surrounded by mountains with less than ten people camping in small tree covered sites. There are no amenities, power, running water, or even trash cans… just the peace and silence of nature unobstructed by civilization.

After stepping out of my truck to see where I might park, I realized there was just a single space that was potentially large enough for my home. The entry to the site was small and looked near impossible to maneuver. Let’s give it a shot!

After some time I was a bit at a loss, to me it was beginning to look like a mathematical impossibility. To slip my home in the spot I might need a chainsaw and some magic ferry dust. I hadn’t given up, but was sitting in quiet contemplation when a gentleman walked by. We exchanged hellos and chatted. I asked him if there was a place to turn around down the road. Gary said there wasn’t (the road curved and ended about 100 yards away at a lake). He asked if I was trying to get into the site and then walked around and surveyed the situation. He returned and told me he has driven semis and large machinery for decades and that maneuvering into the site was probably possible, though it would take two people and some patience… and then he offered to help.

“Oh thank you. Yes, please!” I said with a smile. Sure enough, within fifteen minutes my home was nestled perfectly in paradise.

Was that kindness? Was it luck that the perfect guy happened to walk up the road just at the perfect moment? There are hundreds of similar stories I could tell that have occurred in the last year and a half… and probably ten or more from just the last few days.

I thanked Gary, gave him a hug, and asked how long he would be staying by the lake. He said he was just dropping his grandson off to spend a few days camping with friends; although, he’d be back to check on them probably once a day. We chatted more and said our farewells.

That evening it began to rain and amidst the coming and going of showers the sky turned orange, purple and pink. Far away from towns, crowds, cell towers or roads, here we were: a part of the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen. I walked to a clearing to get a better view of the lake when in front of me was a stunningly gorgeous landscape and the silhouettes of two boys fishing. I began capturing these moments in photos.

The boys did not know I was there… I walked up to one boy and said hello, showed the photo to him, and asked if his parents were nearby so I could send them the photo. He shared that his parents weren’t here, that he was camping with friends and his grandfather would be back tomorrow… I suddenly saw the resemblance. What a treat and what a gift.

The next evening I was sitting by the lake reading when Gary and his grandson appeared down the shoreline.  I walked over and after chatting a bit I asked for his email and showed him the photo of his grandson. He shared that his grandson had told him about the photo and they both were excited to have it. Gary asked me to send him the photo, asked me if it was ok if he wrote me every now and then to check in and then he invited me to come back someday. There were many more beautiful places like this that he would love to show me.

Gary and his grandson were trying to load kayaks and a large boat in a truck. I offered to help, Gary said they could handle it, but I helped anyways. We had all the boats loaded in minutes. Gary thanked me and I thanked him. Now I wonder: If Gary hadn’t helped me the day before, would I have walked over and helped load the boats? Probably not… this is something I’m glad I noticed.

We had a moment and a hug and Gary again asked me to contact him when I came back and again asked if it was ok to write me. Yes please… I waved goodbye to an angel and his grandson… and it seems he felt he was waving back to an angel by the lake.

And here I am now, back by the lake, my feet being warmed by a fire on the beach, my eyes being bathed by the beauty of nature, my ears filled with the sounds of leaves fluttering, birds chirping, bugs buzzing and nothing else… writing these words for all of us, and wondering:

What if human life has more in common with trees and forest life than we can imagine?


All photos captured by Kristy Halvorsen at a scenic lake in the far northwest forest of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada


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