Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Giving Tree

As Logan slept, I heard unusual chatter outside my bedroom window--the voices of my neighbor and a stranger. There was a regretful sound to Theresa's voice, and then a word or two about a tree. Suddenly I understood exactly what was happening. Our Homeowners' Association had announced that some neighborhood trees were being taken down; the beautiful shading maple behind us was apparently one. I leapt out of bed & called down from above, "Theresa? Is that tree going down!!??"

Yes. The root system has encroached on her property, tearing up the step to her porch. This tree survived a recent tornado-like storm, so I thought of it fondly, and expressed my grief aloud.

Here is the tree that lightening & severe winds brought down across the street in June (the storm which this sweetheart survived...):

That "Crunchy" part of me grieves to see any living tree lose its life!

The previous weekend had brought a similar sorrow when we arrived at church and noticed our favorite after-services Crepe Myrtle...gone! I gasped! How could I even enter the building without knowing what had happened? Every Sunday after the processional, my children joined others at the tree for a 20-minute climbing routine. We had met children and their parents at that tree! How could it have been so healthy and beautiful the previous week, and now be SAWDUST? It was made clear to me that, like our precious Maple, it had overgrown its space. The root system was reeking havoc on the plumbing to the church.

Memories of that tree:

I confess, knowing that our manmade structures create environments where beautiful life-giving trees cannot thrive makes me morose. I'm not an extremist like those who hold candlelight vigils and mourn for the trees as I do for aborted babies, but, I do always need to understand the purpose and meaning behind the felling of a tree.

To say goodbye, we took some pictures, and then spent a couple hours watching the slow pruning, trimming, and whittling down of a gorgeous life to a flat stump. I was so honored to have been given the opportunity to study the rings with my kids when the landscapers agreed to leave me trunk "cookies." Three humongous disks are left behind for our fellow homeschoolers to touch and study.

Here are some shots of its last day:

When my parents were choosing how to direct/redirect their new driveway, they took the trees into consideration. The path they chose kills fewer trees. I grinned when I heard that this week.

Anyone who has read Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree will consider, as I do, the life this tall Maple has lived. The wind has blown its branches and leaves, as it has "talked" to those around it, it has shaded these houses, and housed birds and squirrels.

Here's our daughter this past summer, giving a spontaneous hug to another oxygen producer:

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord." (Psalm 96:11-13)

It was very sad, but also fascinating to watch the Maple come down, as these professional tree climbers adroitly tied off knots here & there, and handled a chain saw while dangling off the ground. They started at the top and worked their way down. In this shot you can see a large limb being cut, which was tied off, and lowered neatly to the ground.

The Giving Tree from lisandrea on Vimeo.

I LOVE this song by John Gorka, called "Branching Out!"

"When I grow up I want to be a tree
Want to make my home with the birds and the bees
And the squirrels, they can count on me
When I grow up to be a tree

I'll let my joints get stiff, put my feet in the ground
Take the winters off and settle down
Keep my clothes till they turn brown
When I grow up, I'm gonna settle down

I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, reach for the sky
I'm gonna reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm gonna reach, till I know why

When the spring comes by I'm gonna get real green
If the dogs come by I'm gonna get real mean
On windy days, I'll bend and lean
When I grow up I'm gonna get real green

If I should fall in storm or slumber
Please don't turn me into lumber
I'd rather be a Louisville slugger
Swinging for the seats...

repeat chorus and fade"

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