Column, Tree Talk

View with a room

By Gary Salmon

This has been a cold spring without many consecutive days of similar weather so the first half of March was spent looking at the world around us from the windows surrounding us. The invitation to actually get outside and away from the looking glass would come, I thought, when consistent warm weather arrived. What did come however was some serious health issues that sent me to the Rutland Hospital intensive care unit for two weeks followed by four days in the progressive care cnit prior to discharge.

The operative word here is “care” and from the time you land in the hospital bed and get hooked up to equipment that I will never understand but certainly appreciate, you are surrounded by very professional staff people who make you their number one priority. It is this room that becomes the center of your life: One color, full of noises emanating from the equipment tied to you, and the constant shuffling of staff visiting you and their equipment. As you get better your horizons begin to expand beyond the limitations of your room. It is here that patients need patience.

The nurses’ station is a central pod surrounded by a hallway allowing access to all the rooms. This hallway is a 200-foot circle and although constantly being used, forms the perfect exercise course. When the choice is a sterile one dimensional room with you in the center of it or the opportunity to expand your horizons, guess what? You join the parade. Early efforts required me, a walker, two nurses each moving the equipment still attached to me, plus a follow up nurse with a wheelchair in case I needed to sit down. As I got better the number of people and equipment began to lessen and the number of laps increased.

Photo of the painting by Gary Salmon
Mural hanging in RRMC provides inspiration to many.

What brought this parade to a screeching halt in mid lap one afternoon was my sudden exposure to a stunning mural installed in one of the rooms. I literally stopped to stare as though invited by the mural to join it. It featured a beautifully painted very old tree, fall scene, with a rarely used path leading away toward the unknown. Once hooked on the view with a room each lap slowed as we passed by right up until discharge. As it turned out there were three adjacent rooms, each with a greenhouse-like structure outside the window and a mural installed in each.

As I continued to stare at this artwork I was struck by a Charlie Brown comment made to Linus about something that they had viewed, followed by the comment, “the theological implications alone are staggering.”

Old tree: Wisdom, timelessness, all-knowingness. Fall Scene: End of growing season/start of dormancy. Trail: To what waits in our life beyond. I was moved as much by this work of art as I am of living trees filling the world we live in. A hospital stay will do that to you.

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