Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mourning Trees

How we treat nature, speaks volumes about who we are. When we see the majestic branches of trees that are intertwined with age and wisdom, what do we actually see? Something to: water, climb, hug, prune, or just grab a chainsaw and cut down to nothing?

To some, this beautiful mass of greenery below is a work of art . . .

. . . and yet to others, it's a mess of gnarled obstacles that needs to be eliminated.

That green wall of vegetation stood tall behind our fence one early June morning when I left my house, but it was completely gone in the afternoon when I returned. Beside my own loss, I was struck by the confusion of the wildlife that, for hours and days afterwards, searched for their homes. Birds with worms in their mouths circled the naked area looking for their nests, and squirrels ran about without direction. Their world had vanished without explanation, gone because of one human being, greater than they, who had ownership of, and the means to destroy, a hundred years of growth.

I mourned those trees for a long time after they were gone, each day as I looked out my windows and saw my neighbor's house. Not because of privacy but because I'd watched them grow for almost sixty years. Among their branches were the threads of my childhood, my adolescence, the birth of my children and the struggle of growth that ensued year after year.

I'm really a bit baffled by this new . . . let's call it "change."  Was it my neighbor's desire for clean straight lines and a well organized space? A sort of comment on his frustration at how unpredictable and random nature can be and therefore, a need to tame it in hopes of neat, tightly kept spaces to live life?

For a few weeks I lived in a cave with my shades drawn. It wasn't that people could see in, but rather I couldn't bare to look out. And then slowly I got used to the idea. I accepted the change. The old replaced by the new.

And not long after, there was a similar "change" happening across the ocean, back in Margariti. An old olive tree, unyielding and set in its ways, was cut down and dug out, leaving a tiny orange tree that had struggled beneath its oppressive shadow.

And on the farm, a group of adolescent maple trees was transplanted from where they'd fallen as seeds at the base of a deep ditch.

They were brought up onto flat land, planted side by side within the valley where direct sunlight now hits their branches and the drapery of mountains has become their backdrop for the future, replacing the shady mud of the ditch where they'd struggled to grow for several years. Some are slowly dying and some are fighting to live but it is a certainty that none would have survived much longer in the ditch.

Different location. Different rationale.

I'd love to hear from you!