A Much Loved Tree With No Friends

Today I watched as the most beautiful tree in my village was sliced into small pieces and taken away. It was part of an avenue - formed from all sorts of species, but this beech tree was the avenue's crowning glory. Every Autumn its hundred-thousand leaves would turn the to the most perfect golden hue - set in the silver rib-work of its gracious tarnished limbs which arced over the road like the masonry of an ancient cathedral. When the tree surgeons got down to the base of the trunk, it was so thick that even with a great claw-like grip they could not lift it onto the timber truck, and had to slice it into smaller pieces first. The man I spoke to seemed emotional. It was clearly against his own will that the judgement call had been made, and the death sentence signed.

There was no warning that the tree would disappear. The reason it turned out, was that residents of a nearby house said the tree was causing subsidence - yet the tree could not have been less than ten metres away from the house. Could its roots have really played such havoc? As I looked around, I realized that any of the other trees in the avenue could be accused of the same offence. When I asked passers-by, all agreed that the tree was beautiful and added something to the village, and all noted the void left by its absence. Yet this same fall from grace could afflict any of the other trees on the Avenue - each time argued on pragmatic grounds that conveniently overlook the qualities that make life worth living.

The tree would of course have died eventually - but then nothing is permanent. The house that was protected - which is far from inspiring - will one day crumble or be replaced. Beauty is fleeting, and this is what that old beech tree knew as well as anyone - generating its glorious show of colour before retreating into itself each winter. But this time there would be no spring.
bornexplorer bornexplorer
36-40, M
3 Responses Jan 10, 2013

A big loss for you and your village.

I love trees and your story made me a bit sad. Stupid, isn't it?

Your story painted this tree very beautifully and clearly in my mind. It made me feel sad too. I had three 50 year old pear trees in my garden once, and cherished the seasons even more, watching their leaves change. The people that bought that property from me, cut them down too. It was like I had lost some friends.

I went back to the stump a few days ago with my boys. We were going to count the rings to see how old it was - but when I scraped away at the heap of wood-chip, I could find no stump. It was as though someone wanted to erase any memory that the tree had existed. Sorry about your pair trees. Sometimes I think that the best way to make a doomed tree live on is to make something from it. We have some furniture in our house made from a great tree that was felled from my granny-in-law's garden. I used to lathe bowls from the wood - but it is so hard to season it properly.