Saturday, October 18, 2014

Who Cries at The Death of a Tree?

Behind the fence which bounds our property is a small copse on a vacant lot. The trees there are starting to change the color of their leaves, many are already shedding summer's glory as winter prepares to sweep south into this land hard by Narragansett Bay and not far from the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

I have seen these trees bending to the power of a hurricane. I have seen them as the first leaves began to bud in the early spring.

These trees have provided shade in the hot summer when I needed a break from chasing the lawn mower around the yard.

I have watched the first flakes of snow floating from the sky, gently caressing each branch as the snow fell silently to the ground.

I have also seen them in the harsh winter's light of a roaring blizzard when it seemed nothing could possibly live in such cold.

For fifteen years I have watched these trees, this remnant of a forest which once spread nearly unbroken from the shores of Cape Cod to the beginnings of the Great Plains on the other side of the Mississippi.

Today I came home and something felt out of place. Something seemed to be missing.

Something felt, not right.

Looking again at "my" trees I couldn't see it at first. How do you see that which is not there?

Then I realized, one of the trees was gone.

If you look at that photo, the two tall trees just back of the shed, there is a gap. You don't know this, but I do. A tree once stood there. Brother (or sister) to the one just to the left of the gap.

I walked in a bit of a daze towards the garden. Looking over the fence, there it was, a tree, fallen to the earth. Cut down by some human with a chainsaw.

I don't know the reason. Perhaps it was diseased. Perhaps the owner of that vacant lot wanted the wood and might return later to cut it up for firewood.

I don't know the circumstances, I don't know the whys and wherefores of the need to cut that tree down.

All I know is that there is a gap in the skyline, a hole.

I remembered one fine spring morning listening to the song of a cardinal high in that tree. He was happy, spring was in the air. Winter was dying.


Now that tree is no more. Never again will the cardinal sit high in those branches and sing his song of spring. No more will the birds find shelter in its leafy embrace.

That tree is gone.

So I ask you, who cries at the death of a tree?

I do.

Perhaps I grow too sentimental in my old age...


  1. The sentimentality is cumulative. As we age, the losses we experience tend to build up and we can't help but hurt from it, whether it be a tree, an animal, or another human. I know very well how you feel.

    1. I never looked at it that way.

      Marvelous insight there my friend.

  2. When you've watched them grow, you are 'invested'... as they say...

  3. Out in CA we have these trees called camphor trees. The builder of my humble subdivision picked them because they grow fast. Problem is 2 fold - they grow so big that many lawns look like a volcano ready to erupt - the tree takes up most of the lawn. - the tree has lifted the lawn 3 feet or so. Also the wood is weak and brittle - so any bit windstorm we have can break branches weighing 100-200 lbs.

    I view it as a lawsuit waiting to happen as the tree extends halfway across the street.

    So I am thinking of hiring a "tree hitman" :-)

    I'm sure the trees in New England are prettier and stronger.

    But tehn we have Sequoias. I saw a picture of early 19th century loggers cutting one of these majestic giants.

    For those I shed a tear.

    1. Ah, the builders of subdivisions. Quick buck, no long term thought of what will be.

      Devils, the lot of them.

  4. You'd be crying for days if you lived here. They are chopping down trees right and left because of power lines and disease. We lost a bunch in a freak storm this summer. Very sad.

  5. For fifteen years I have watched these trees, this remnant of a forest which once spread nearly unbroken from the shores of Cape Cod to the beginnings of the Great Plains on the other side of the Mississippi.

    A couple o' things... First, 15 years in one place? I'm SO envious! My longevity record is ten years in the same city but in two different homes.

    Second, you wanna REALLY miss trees? Come out and live on those Great Plains of which you speak.

    1. I have lived in a place with damn few trees. Miss them I did.

  6. Once had a house with a huge tree in the front yard. Cleaning up the leaves once a years was a chore, but the whole family enjoyed the tree. My sons, and the neighborhood kids, played in it. The new owners cut it down. One day we happened to drive by and my youngest burst into tears when he saw the stump.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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