The fall snow was heavy on the branches of the massive Balsam Fir.

My friend tried to lessen the weight of the freshly fallen-October snow by shaking the branches with her trekking pole as we snowshoed through the woods.

“I feel bad for the trees when the snow is so heavy and weighs them down,” she said sympathetically.

Are they built to withstand all seasons and used to Minnesota winters? Are any of us?

I no longer remember if winter arrives this early every year.

Just like many, I am not ready for fall to leave us so soon and quickly. We can feel the the loss of the warmer days with the touch of cold air.

I started thinking about the resilience of those who live in northern Minnesota; the strength of those who are living through a pandemic; the fortitude of those who have work in law enforcement during a time of unrest; those who are teachers during a time of uncertainty; those who own businesses and are still trying to navigate unchartered waters; the grit of those who work in critical service jobs; and those who have gone months without seeing loved ones – some who do not have a choice, like residents of long-term care facilities. All this as we enter a new season. All this when there seems to be more heaviness than usual in the world around us, at least as I see it at this moment.

I looked around at the trees of various sizes in the scenic Northwoods where we were snowshoeing and reflected on how they are all built uniquely – just like each of us. I saw how beautiful the “Charlie Brown” tree looks with frost on its tips and how the snow fell differently on its branches. I glanced up at the tallest tree and saw how the snow created a picturesque pattern that goes on for layers.

In life, we all handle the world around us in various ways. Some people struggle to get out of bed and others wake up with sunshine on their faces.

Is how we handle the elements of life depend on how we are built, like that big Balsam fir? Not necessarily, as it was on the thick branches of that largest tree where the heavy snow built up the most.

We sometimes think the strongest branches can withstand wind, rain, and storms. However, that may not always be the case as when my friend brushed off the snow, the branches instantly lifted up. The tree just needed less to carry and that was possible with assistance by someone who noticed the excess weight was bringing it down.

The ones that seem tough from the outside may not always be and at times need extra encouragement as they have endured many tough winters. And that “Charlie Brown” tree may just need to realize its beauty as seen through the eyes of someone else. Sometimes, we need a reminder of how beautiful, amazing, strong, unique we are – that you are. Sometimes we just need the weight to be lifted off us so we can stand tall.

* Melissa can be reached at


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