My suspicion is that this action is being taken at the request of a new homeowner, as the tree is located in front of a house that was recently sold. And we have so many suburbanites moving in, and they want lawns — not tree-lined streets, and so the chainsaws come. I have listened all day to the goddamned chainsaws. The air outside smells of exhaust and sawdust. At this point, most of the limbs, which provided so much shade in summer, have been amputated and mostly just the towering, mutilated trunk remains. I suppose it will come down tomorrow.
Last night, we went out and lit a candle at the base of the tree, and I lit another on our altar. I laid my hands on rough bark, thinking about all the long decades of this tree's life, and stared up at the bright stars. I think I was wishing that I were the sort of witch who believes that magick can truly protect those things that so desperately need protecting from the ravages of man. Still, though I am emphatically not that sort of witch, I performed a protection ritual. It felt like it was the very least I could do. A sort of cosmic protest vote.
Today, I am thinking of the Lorax, and I'm thinking of Treebeard and the ents, and I'm wondering why this should hurt so much, the loss of this one grand old tree when fully one fifth of the world's tropical rain forests were destroyed between 1960 and 1990. When each year thousands of acres of Brazilian (just Brazil alone, mind you) rain forests are lost to human greed and ignorance. I'm wondering how I can mourn this one tree when, at the current rate of worldwide deforestation, biologists estimate that the world's tropical rainforests may all be gone by 2090 CE. And 23 million more acres of forest will be lost here in the US by 2050.
But it does hurt, a palpable, physical pain. Spooky and I have both cried for the loss of this tree. And I think the answer why it hurts is simply that I knew this one tree as well as anyone may ever "know" a tree. I have loved this one tree, and we breathed in the oxygen it breathed out, and it shaded me from the scorching summer sun, and made the world more beautiful. What am I trying to say? Maybe I've said it all already. Maybe this is someplace words may not ever adequately go.
And I'm still thinking of Treebeard, in the Jackson film of The Two Towers, coming upon the devastation of Fanghorn by Saruman's orcs: Many of these trees were my friends...Creatures I had known from nut and acorn...They had voices of their own.
There are photos, behind the cut:
Photographs Copyright © 2007 by Kathryn A. Pollnac