Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Fond Farewell

We said goodbye to an old friend this week. It was a sad parting, but the time had come. We debated for several years over when it would be best to let it go, although every wind storm made the decision a little easier. Our old friend was the last of seven huge maple trees in our yard. Loyal and quiet, it sheltered us for the twenty years we've lived here but it has stood sentinel for decades, maybe even a century or more. And now it's gone.

Well, not really gone. Yet. There's still quite a bit of it in the yard, only now it's horizontal instead of vertical. It's amazing how tall a tree is when it's on the ground! And that was just the reason we had to cut it. This old maple was huge, and way too close to the house for comfort. If it had fallen just right, our front porch and two front rooms would have been underneath its massive trunk. Many a night I pleaded with God to "please, don't let it hit the house if it falls" while the wind howled outside. We held out for as long as we felt it was reasonably safe, but the time came at last when we had to bite the bullet and cut it down.

I wasn't here for the cutting since it was a school day. I suppose that was a good thing, since chain saws grate on my nerves and watching such feats make me think of all the ways the process could result in disaster. I snapped some photos before I left for school and said my goodbyes with a wistful sigh.

Goodbye, old friend!
When I came home, the sky was empty and the yard was full. Robin surveyed the work that awaited him, wondering when he'd ever get it all cleaned up. I took more photos. When we looked over the stump, trunk, and largest branches we could see that we made the right decision. The core of the tree was wet and soft, a sure sign that decay wasn't far off. We could also see where the tree had been tapped over the years for making maple syrup, which made us wonder just how old it really was. But there was no use in waxing nostalgic at that point, so we both got to work. Robin started clearing brush and I tackled the sidewalk with a broom and a shovel. We barely made a dent before dark.

The horizontal tree
Firewood for a warm house

Today, a couple of days later, we're getting used to the yard without our big tree. A friend helped Robin get all but the biggest chunks cleaned up and hauled away. What a blessing that was! (Thanks, Jeff!) As with every change, there are pros and cons: our kitchen in lighter, but the dirt on the windowsill shows more, and chances are the evening sun will be in my eyes as I work at the sink. There won't be such a mess of leaves and seed pods around our door, but there won't be any shade from the hot afternoon sun either. And I'll be able to see who's pulling into our driveway from the window, but the birds have lost a huge source of shelter and food. Still, life is all about change, whether we like it or not. Once in a while the constant force of change we don't notice most of the time makes itself known in big ways. When it does, I want to savor the sweetness of good memories and blessings yet to come.

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