This past Monday, I said yes. I should have said no. And now I regret it.
I haven’t felt this sad since we had our sweet Rita euthanized two years ago. Her legs and hips were shot. We nursed her along as long as we could.
It was the right thing to do. But still it hurt. She gazed into our eyes a long while. And then her eyelids slowly closed.
I live in the woods. We built our house among countless trees. We put down roots. We became neighbors with the trees.
Some are majestic. Some runty. Some are vibrant. Some sickly. I like them all. But as it turns out, one tree in particular had won my deep affection.
It stands within a rock break. My grandsons and I occasionally sit in its shade eating sandwiches. It’s a special tree in a special place.
Our woods includes a dozen ash trees. We can count on them dying, along with another eight billion in North America. The emerald ash borer is working its way across the continent. There’s no cure. No vaccine. Ash trees are falling left and right, day and night.
Power companies mark them for removal.
On Monday the chainsaws arrived to remove marked trees. My favorite tree wasn’t marked.
What about this one, asked the man with the chainsaw. It’s not got long to live. As long as I’m here, shall I take it down?
I said yes and returned to the house.
(A friend once told me: Make reversible decisions quickly, irreversible ones slowly.)
I heard the roar of the saw. I heard the groaning of the tree. I heard the thud.
It’s not got long to live.
But not long can be a while.
I now wish I could sit under its shade with my grandsons one more summer, whiling away our time together. I should have said no.
by Alfred Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
See Paula’s photo “Bittersweet and Lavender” on the home page. Posted Feb. 21
Feeling your deep sadness & regret! I’m with you in your love for trees… and this poem! It is a favorite of mine!
I fight every removal that might be proposed. Question every trim. My father was a forester out of Syracuse U. This poem was one of his favorites. He understood culling but he loved his trees. God bless.
A giant ash tree shades our backyard and serves as an arena for squirrels performing high branch acrobatics. We watch the show from our deck and salute the tree and the performers with coffee in the AM and Chardonnay in the evening. Our ash tree has a worrisome lean to the South. Tree guys say it should come down. We keep it going with anti-ash bore vaccinations—for the squirrels, for us, for nature, for IT.
We once had a couple of Honey Locusts that my wife, Claire saved from a plant propagation class. She lugged them around until she bought this wee domicile and finally planted them. We collectively called them “The Vicious Thorns.” They were ultimately a nuisance, with thorny branches dropping in the yard… However, they were great shade trees and the birds and pesky squirrels didn’t seem to mind the thorns at all. When we finally cut the last one, Claire went out, smudged it with Sage, apologized and told the tree that she had afforded it many years of life, before reminding it that it had ungratefully hurt her on various occasions…we now agree it was good to finally drop those two, though it’s not as shady as it used to be–not as thorny either.
Oh, I feel so sad that you have lost your tree. I can hardly bare to even think about a tree being cut down. Had to have an ash in my yard cut down a few years ago. So painful! I do believe that trees are talking with us, we just don’t yet understand the language. I’ll be thinking about your sorrow. The poem is the first one that I ever read and memorized. I was about nine years old. Still can remember the whole poem. Thank you for a thoughtful and touching post today!
I had forgotten that poem, one that I memorized as a child although I can’t remember if it was my mother or a teacher who “suggested” I memorize it. A lovely poem for a sunny day with some sadness.
When I die I want to come back as a tree. But not one on a tree farm.
My heart is with others here who are saddened and feel your pain at the loss, which matters. Trees are “family” in my world, essential family who leave no orphans and care expertly for their young, their own. And for all life around them which lives, thrives because of their strength and abundance, their higher purpose–sustained life on this planet. Maybe you and your grandsons will plant a hardy young ‘un in memory of this mighty Shelterer and Memory Keeper, and continue a most valuable “family legacy.” Mother Earth will kneel in gratitude.
Have you considered making something from your tree? A piece of furniture or a bowl? Neil Super (www.tworiverturnings.com) specializes in turning bowls from legacy or historic trees.
Condolences for this irreparable loss. Morgans Grove is treating their ash trees, I think. They are awesome. I always try to touch and bless one favorite giant with wide spreading roots. I like to think it is doing the same back to me.
Love this Devil’s gift. I grew up climbing one tree after another. My parent’s thought I was half monkey. I feel your pain.
I am very sad for your loss. I spent my early years in the top branches of a mighty Oak tree on my families farm. A tornado ripped it out of the earth long ago and I was in mourning for a very long time. I have often thought how wonderful it would be if trees could talk. Wow! What stories they would tell. Perhaps you and your grandsons could plant a tree in remembrance of the one lost.