People often speak disparagingly of "tree huggers", a term frequently used to describe naturalists or environmentalists. This phrase carries personal meaning for me, because I have long felt a strong love and reverence for nature, especially trees.
Soon I will bid a tearful goodbye to a beloved old white pine tree at the back of my yard. When we moved into our house over thirty-six years ago, I was immediately captivated by a long stand of tall pine trees which form a protective line behind the homes in our neighborhood. I am not sure how old they are, but they most definitely have stood for over a century.
In a recent thunderstorm one of the largest and oldest -- a lovely white pine -- was struck by lightning. Today the tree service came and confirmed what we already feared -- it must come down. Three houses, garages, and several other healthy trees are in the path of destruction if a strong wind blows through.
I know alot of people will not understand why this saddens me so deeply. "It is only a tree," they will say. "You are surrounded by trees." But I look at this majestic tree which is most likely one of the oldest in our neighborhood, and my heart breaks. I can't explain my deep connection to trees. I have lost other trees to storms and disease -- even one I had planted myself -- and have always mourned the losses, but somehow this is worse. I'm certain this tree was here long before our houses were built. It was probably originally planted as part of a hedgerow between farms. It has provided shelter for birds and critters, shade from the sun, and protection from winds, and has watched our families grow up and move on.
And now, its time has come, its season is past, and I will miss it each morning as I gaze from my kitchen window as the sun rises, with its rays filtering through the branches of the pines that remain. There will be an empty space -- its majesty will be gone. Over one hundred years of slow, steady growth will be felled in one day.
It will be quite a procedure to take it down. They are going to need a crane to reach the uppermost branches and safely maneuver them down between the trees, without damaging the garages that lie at its base. I don't think I can watch. I am a bit embarrassed to feel such deep emotion over a tree. So, I will busy myself elsewhere that day and not make my grief public.
But, this "tree-hugger" will always miss our beautiful old tree.