Many, many years ago, on the property on which our house sits there was a Christmas tree farm. Our farmhouse, which is a historic edifice, was built by a member of the Messer family, a clan long associated with our “neck of the woods.” The house came into being in about 1895, and after additions through the years, it assumed its current form. We love it.
There are now three fir trees from the original farm that stand very tall here. Until a couple of weeks ago, there were four. We had two of those trees growing in our front yard. They had grown so large as to almost hide the house from the street that it faces. Now there stands but one there. We were aware that neither of those two trees were much longer to be with us. They were and are falling prey to disease and age, both being well in excess of a century old. I could not bear to watch the sickest tree be taken down. Hearing the burr of the saws was enough.
It is amazing how we can become attached, as to a human family member, to such a thing as a tree. I suppose it is precisely because a tree is not just a “thing,” but a living, breathing, functioning member of our extended family; a true friend. Our house has been visibly altered. Still a beautiful old home place, but more naked and exposed, a bit more aggressively present on the street. It is something to which we will have to become accustomed. So be it. “There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which has been planted.” We are all finite.
I never saw you as haughty or proud,
but you stood firmly, as a solitary sentry
Constant shade and evergreen, you embodied
all the character of your name.
All the toxicity we expelled, from chimneys
and smokestacks that divided and muddied the sky,
all such darkness we gave, you accepted
with grace and beauty, and returned to us,
pristine, breathable and fresh. The smothering darkness
we fashioned from light, you transformed to
refreshing, comfortable shade. You were a home
to small tenants – living beings that turned the
full cycle of their lives within your protective arms.
But above all, you defined the landscape of
the place we call home. You still held within
your skin the remembrance of all who had dwelt
about and beneath you through time long past
our small, poor recollection. In your passing
there is sorrow and pain. Yet one day they will cease.
What we hold still in our mind’s eye, will disappear
and be replaced by an open, sun-warmed spot.
It is part of our fiber, as a race, that
there will be generations to come that
will hold neither memory nor vision of you, nor of
the ones you once gave shelter, and over whom you
held your quiet sway. That is life. All is well.
We give Thanks, with our prayer that
it is enough. . .