It’s just a tree.
Two, actually, growing so close we always thought of them as one big tree that forked at ground level.
The oak trees directly in front of our house were already nearing the end of their lives. Large branches have fallen before, and we saw warning signs of age here and there. We knew the trees would have to come down at some point or at least be trimmed way back, but we figured we had years left.
I am very, very glad the trees broke the way they did during Hurricane Matthew. I’d rather they hadn’t broken at all, of course, but they snapped and came down, the breaks 25-30 feet up, and they missed the house, the power lines and our cars. No one was hurt. No property was damaged.
Except for the trees, of course.
They were here when we got here, 30 years ago. We used to wedge a basketball in the fork between them when we weren’t playing, but last week you’d have needed a ladder to do that. The cable we used to wrap around one tree to anchor a dog run line across the front yard is now embedded inches deep into the bark. They towered over our house, 60′ high. Squirrels ran wild on their branches. There were birds. Every spring, bright green leaves everywhere, a beautiful canopy over our heads that stretched across the whole yard and out over the street.
Is it weird to be sad over a tree? Our house isn’t as attractive now, certainly not at the moment, although much of the rest of the yard damaged during the storm and the removal will grow back quickly enough. And we’ll have to start cleaning the front of the house more regularly. We won’t be as hidden from the world now, and I’ll really miss that. Now when I look out the bedroom window I see the street and the neighbors and the harsh sunlight instead of dancing green leaves and gently waving branches. But it’s not just aesthetics. I can’t really explain it.
I don’t ascribe souls to plants. I don’t anthropomorphize creatures without brainstems. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a friend or anything. But there was a life intertwined with ours for three decades, and it’s gone now, and I’ll miss it.
I’m sad tonight.
It’s just a tree.