Just west of Kalamazoo, Michigan, there is a small grove of juvenile sugar maple trees, with thin, distorted trunks and scars. It is simultaneously arresting and chilling to see them. Some are at least 12 feet in height; more stalks than trees, without branches or leaves. There are others with twisted trunks and scars that appear alien-faced or shaped like screams.

The heart-shaped scars stop me in my tracks, demanding closer scrutiny. It’s suddenly apparent that most of the trunks have at least one, prominent heart-shaped scar. I wonder now, are these scars or wounds? Is it a harbinger of impending doom? A message of unconditional love? Or could it be both?

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