Leon’s tree, like all of us, experiences decisive moments every moment. It’s a product of nature, like all of us, whose systems are constantly making decisions about how best to survive in its environment and weather the circadian rhythms of life.
So what better earthly creature to demonstrate that decisive moments aren’t always obvious and sometimes don’t become apparent for some time after they occur. Sometimes, it’s never, but it can be calming to gaze upon a beautiful tree and know that, at every moment, decisions are being made that will decide its present and future.
I named Leon’s tree the day I saw that a new bench had been installed beneath its shade. A plaque on the bench identified Leon Harker as its honouree. Mr Harker was a soldier who served a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Signalman in the 110 Signal Squadron of the Royal Australian corps of Signals, from 1970 to 1971.
Did Mr Harker decide to join the Army voluntarily or was he a National Serviceman? I don’t know, but I knew, because I have a background in Veterans’ administration, that the 6-digit number after his name was a service number, and that’s how I found him on the Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans. He was born (in Shepparton) in 1949 and died in 2006, and the bench was installed across the road from the local RSL to honour ‘a dedicated member of Brisbane Bunya Lions Club and Australian Lions Foundation.’
Mr Harker was a man who like to serve, but he died relatively young. I like to think that Leon’s tree and the practical bench beneath it will serve as a reminder to anyone passing by to live their lives decisively and in the moment. In honour of Leon, and his tree, I take regular photos to mark the decision-making inherent in every living thing.