Fallen leaves

I drove by a fallen tree today. A large fallen tree, four feet in diameter. Cut down, tipped over and chopped apart, the tree was being taken away in favor of clearing a several block area for a future hospital addition.

It had to have been 50 years old, planted when the development was begun.

The city has been built around it. Children have grown and moved on, young adults moved in and had their own children, and those children, in turn, grew up and moved on as well.

It’s been a stones throw from the hospital, providing shade for employees out on a walk, providing a focal point for generations of healers. It’s served as a home for birds and squirrels, it’s been barked at by countless dogs, sheltered cats in need of escape and filtered thousands – if not millions – of gallons of rain through its leaves.

It’s been cut apart due to power lines, low hanging branches and personal desire. It’s stood tall, a patriotic symbol of nature, through several wars, several mayors, a handful of elections, street renovations and candidate signs.

It has had rummage sale signs posted on it. Lost dogs. Graduation balloons and streamers. It has been driven by millions of times, soaking in the carbon dioxide, cleaning the air and providing a little pocket of fresh oxygen for the block for longer than I’ve been alive.

It’s not so much that the tree had to be chopped down, that I’m bucking progress by crying over one more tree falling. I understand. You can’t expand your services without cutting down a few trees. The hospital will be able to take on an added load, which means more lives saved and more families healed.

But it’s amazing. After all that it had been through, after so much history, this is how it met its fate. After serving proudly on the periphery of our lives for the past several decades, it had been unceremoniously torn apart.

Face down, swarmed by saws and cut into pieces. Dragged from the dirt like a corpse. Only to be replaced by more wood, this time sculpted and shaped, hammered together into a dwelling.

It had lived through so much. And now, in a matter of days, it has been completely forgotten.

For some reason, it was kind of sad. Or maybe it was just my mood this morning.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 1st, 2008