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.