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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Loss of a Natural Friend


Half asleep, I heard a snap and swooshing on Tuesday morning and didn't think anything of it. Probably an animal knocking about behind the house. Later on we discovered our huge 70-yr-old
Aleppo pine had a split in its trunk that went clear to the ground. The set of heavy branches that lay on the ground had made up half of the tree. The other half was still standing.


Sunday I'd had a premonition. The tree told me it was going to fall. I heard it in my thoughts then saw it on the ground. I didn't listen. I put it out of my head.

Yesterday, we had tree removal contractors come out to assess and bid. The other half of the tree would probably not survive. If it did it was highly possible that it would fall on the house as it was leaning that way. The entire tree needed to be removed.

The contractors we chose arrived early this morning. The sound of chain saws and a chipper have marked this day so far. I can hardly bear to look out the window. Forget going outside to watch them cut - I don't want to cry in front of the climbing, cutting crew.



We've lived here for for 24 years so my two youngest played under the friendly pine. My oldest son discovered the owl that called its branches home for years. We collected its dropped pine cones and made holiday decorations with them. Dozens of birds ate its pine nuts, perched, or nested in its mass. Its limbs, spread over the front half of our side yard, offered us cooling shade. And most of all, everyday, it talked to me.

A wind comes down through our canyon several times a day and everyday the wind lingered to dance through the pine needles. The pine would respond in whispers. Everyday I listened. I cherished the moments its soft whispered speech came to my ear. Moments of joy. The towering pine was part of our family and it was my friend. I can't imagine a day without its voice. I will miss it so.

It is temporarily silent now. The crew are on their lunch break. I ventured a peek toward the pine tree. Its branches are all gone. Gone too, is the large half of the tree that laid upon the ground. Remaining, reaching above the roof, is the part of the trunk that leans toward the house. I imagine it will disappear soon after lunch has ended.


I haven't mentioned the beauty of the long needles on slender reaching branches that graced its silhouette against the sky. I'll never forget the raccoons that hid in its boughs during the fires.


The crew has returned. The sound of chipper and saws once more fill the silence.


The house just shook - not a quake - a giant thud. The last remaining portion of the trunk hit the earth.

Did the cutting hurt? Where does the soul of a tree go when transformed? How does one grieve for a tree friend?

The family pine has completed its cycle of life yet will continue on. Its branches have been chipped into mulch - two mountains of it. The cut logs will warm the homes of family friends and its child stands just feet away from where its main trunk stood. Of the thousands of pine cones that fell to the ground during the span that we've lived here, one seed managed to plant itself, take root, and grow.

I opened the door. Unaccustomed to the bright empty space, my eyes focused on the little one. The baby pine is about 10 feet tall and healthy. It has spent the last several years nestled under the strong limbs of its parent. It stands in the light now. Its baby candles reach toward the sky. I wonder if it has spoken yet? I will have to listen hard for its tiny voice.

The baby tree has a pine cone...


Peace,

Kitchen Window Woman

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