I love trees. I guess you could say I am in ‘tree hugger’ so to speak. Not just in the “stop the bush national forest give away” way, but literally. I hug trees. When I was little I would get distracted from yard work because I was hugging the trees in the yard. I was worried if I skipped one, I would hurt its feelings. As I have previously posted on another blog, when I left Alaska I hugged the trees good bye and I could see my sad face reflecting in their sap.
For a little history, when I was growing up I named all the trees in our yard. I stood sadly by the stumps of Wilma and George the cherry trees when they were cut down and even longer by Tom’s, their son, when he followed. I remember talking to the twin tree-bushes who had some stupid rhyming names like Whinnie and Minnie or something. (Try to remember I was like 10.) And it was almost more than I could bear when my parents cut down Elmo, the over grown weed tree. I was the best advocate the line of Paradise Trees in our yard could have ever asked for, and even now if any of them have to be cut down, my dad puts his arm around me and lets me down gently saying, “now, there is a logical reason why this one has to go.” Still to this day when I go home I greet the maple trees in our front yard with a kiss. They are dear old friends to me. Some people have been frightened by my talking to plants and trees, others embrace it. But, none the less, my name means “of the ash tree meadow” after all. And I have always thought the boy from the “Giving Tree” was a spoiled brat.
So if you are wondering why I am telling you this, there really isn’t a reason. Except for that I found this wonderful narrative about a tree in the book, “Endgame” by Derrick Jensen. I love tree tales, i love the one in Aldo Leopold’s book. This one is similar, not near as good and a little less known, but I thought I’d share it.
“… I thought of a 500 year old oak I saw in New York City, on a slope overlooking the Hudson River. I thought of all that tree had experienced. As an acorn it fell in an ancient forest….It germinated in this diverse community, witnessed runs of fish up the Hudson so great they threatened to carry away the nets of those who would catch them, witnessed human communities living in these forests, the humans not depleting the forests, but rather enhancing them by their very presence, by what they gave back to their home. I witnessed the arrival of civilization, the building of a village, a town, a city, a metropolis….Along the way the tree said good-bye to the wood bison, the passenger pigeon, the Eskimo curlew, the great American chestnuts, the wolverines who paced the shores of the Hudson. It said good-bye (at least for now) to humans living traditional ways. It said good-bye to the neighboring trees, to the forest where its life began. It witnessed the laying down of billions of tons of concrete, the erection of rigid steel structures and brick buildings topped with razor wire.
Unfortunately, it did not live long enough to witness all of this come back down. The tree, I learned last year, is no more. It was cut down by a landowner worried that its branches would fall on his roof. Environmentalists—doing what we seem to do best—gathered to say prayers over its stump.”
Nothing “stumps” me more than why someone would cut down any tree for a slab of concrete. And I can’t wait to hear the ‘sappy’ puns in your comments.