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I watched as the trucks arrived and the crew set up for the day. Having no idea how long it takes to dismantle and drop a 70 foot tall maple tree, I set up surveillance to track the progress. Spys were keeping me informed and the sounds of “The Chipper” alerted me to the momentum of work. When the hum rumbled to a steady roar I grabbed a few supplies and made camp on the table directly opposite the tree.
One might think that this would be a slow and tedious process. Carved with meticulous skill, limbs once reaching for the sun were now being dragged by the crew on the ground. One man reigned leaves and limbs upon the earth with subtle shifts from a bucket on a pole.
With each “drop” the life of the tree took shape. I watched as the 100-year old maple reversed time and what little mother nature had not broken off over the last decade or so was cut off for the sake of safety to all who passed below.
Unmasking the skeleton of earlier—stronger—days, the trunk emerged from beneath layers of leaves and brush.
Suddenly, as if hours had not passed as they normally do when recording life, little was left of the tree that stood outside our windows for so many years, and our predecessors windows before us.
Scars on the ground still mark the spots where the earth braced the maples fall. Limbs have fallen, more each year, as weather and time took their toll on a beautiful and adored tree. The roots that wrapped around themselves to find water long ago outlived the placement they were given. As the last few sections dropped, our little corner of the world changed.
Since I was a wee-young lad I have been called by many names. To each I have replied with appropriate degrees of respect. One—most often said in disrespect—has been tree hugger. Of all the monikers, this one always offended me, which is surprising because there were some offensive names on the list. A tree is planted to grow, to reach for the sun and bring life. A very basic science class will reveal the importance of its being. As a child I climbed my share of whatever limbs I could reach. I have sat beneath the canopy of leaves in many a lands, each one providing a cool respite from the beautiful life outside the shadow. I do not take for granted the medium I most often use, like above, to record life around me. Nor do I disregard the material used to build the house we were protecting in having this maple removed. I stand before a very large pile of wood, dreaming of ways to honor the time it took for the maple on the edge of the road to reach its final height. The tree has done more us than i could ever do for it. But for the record, I have never hugged a tree. At least one that didn’t deserve it.