We have a couple of fairly large oaks in our front yard, one reason I liked this house in the first place. The largest was on the north corner of the house, just outside of Meg’s window. It was a beautiful tree when we moved to this home now ten years ago. The soaring thing housed all kinds of animals. There were birds that feasted and woodpeckers that dug out a home in the old tree. Squirrels nested and launched themselves for roof runs from that old tree. Our cat, not a creature to be tangled with, once treed a raccoon up that oak. Cicada’s songs filled it in summer months and mistletoe glowed green way up it at winter’s undressing.
As if leprous, the old tree began to lose a few fingers, not too long ago. Extremities lost leaves and then gave in to gravity’s pull. The armour about its trunk began to yield, break away and expose its entrails to enemies…insect and illness alike. The old girl looked twisted and tired. Ready to go…
Yesterday, we attached a steel cable, cut a few notches and laid that old lady down. It was a relief. Sleet, the first to fall in over ten years is sprinkling down, clearly covering my yard and trees this very minute.
Nothing looks the same. The whole yard seems empty. Everything seems unbalanced by the removal of the mass that once anchored that corner. My view of my neighbors is now unobstructed. I will not have to leave my porch to view of the moon’s rising each evening. Tonight, I will not have to pray mercy toward the branches that stretched out over our lives. It is better…it was right to cut her down. I even have hot burning firewood enough for me and neighbors to warm ourselves if winter is callous. I should feel relief…great relief…but grief rises in its stead.
So few things of the ground and earth speak to me here. I would be lying to say that this tree didn’t a little, at times..whisper a peace to me. So I, the child of a wood-cutter, one who survived a long season of ice storms, and is aware of their ravages, let her live on…I didn’t force her down. I let her linger long as I could. Until, goodbyes could wait no longer…until time took her from me.
As I looked over my shoulder, ready to pull the truck tied cable taut, I saw two woodpeckers circling about her, the red of their heads flashing stop as they called out their goodbyes.