This Fall

I woke up on Saturday to the sound of chainsaws.  

Our very old neighbors had moved out last month.  The young couple with their new baby moved in last week.  The house had foundation plantings that were overgrown.  Shrubs that hadn’t been trimmed.  Ornamental trees that had reached roof height.  We knew that the young couple would want to do some landscaping. 

We didn’t know they’d also topple the two towering maples that stood so solidly on either side of the house.  

I wish the day this happened wasn’t the 11th of September.

It took almost all day to take down the first one.  I’ll admit that I was just like little Gavin from down the street.  I was transfixed as I watched the tree man way up in the topmost branches, climbing, balancing, buckling, bracing, notching,  sawing, and dropping each limb.  People can do impressive things.  But I couldn’t cheer him on.

The first maple was in great health.  It was sturdy.  It was grand.  I imagined it was proud.  It must have been a century old. I hated seeing it get skinnier, scrawnier, skeletal. I tried to remember it as it was just hours before, full, wide, robust, and round.

I wondered what might have happened if the new couple had moved in a few weeks later.  If they had seen the mighty maple burst into a blaze of red and orange against an October sky.  What if they had moved in three years and two months later and so could watch their toddler dive and splash in a pool of red, brown, and yellow confetti.   

I wish they’d seen those trees and thought of oxygen, of shade, of animals’ homes, of history.

It took decades of patience and  endurance,  seasons of breathing, sunlight soaking, rain sipping, budding, flowering, and leaving.  

It took three days to amputate those sturdy limbs, sever the mighty trunks, and turn the branches into chips.  Today, as the truck pulled out, only stumps and sawdust remained, reminding us of the two towering structures.  Well, that and two giant holes in the sky.

I’m keeping an open mind about our new neighbors.  Maybe they’ll plant new trees and start their own living, breathing history. Until then, please know, Mighty Maples. You will be missed this Fall.

I haven’t had the heart to count the rings.

10 thoughts on “This Fall

  1. Beautiful piece. I loved these lines in particular:

    I wish they’d seen those trees and thought of oxygen, of shade, of animals’ homes, of history.

    It took decades of patience and endurance, seasons of breathing, sunlight soaking, rain sipping, budding, flowering, and leaving.

    Do you read Margaret Renkl in the NYTimes? This reminds me of something she would write. You two would be fans of one another’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There were trees like this downtown of my hometown. They were magnificent and lined a brick street. Yes, brick Street. It looked like a moment in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn it was so serene. But last spring when I went down that street my heart shattered. They were gone. In their place spindly little lilacs. While I was glad new trees had been planted it still hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so interesting that you write this. Our neighborhood has been turning over, older residents giving way to younger families. Systematically we have watched all the stately oaks in the yards fall one after another until the yards are blank canvases of grass. It’s astounding to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s a combination of things: fear of hurricane damage (probably reasonable these days), preference for lawns that look like golf courses, and dislike of leaves.
      I personally think lawns are very overrated: our neighbors use a LOT of water and chemicals to get their perfect looks. Sigh.

      Like

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