Saturday, March 22, 2014

For Dan, and The Love Of Trees


*chunk* the axe bit deep into the trunk of the tree, to its heart, and I felt a shift. There was a low cracking noise and the tree began to fall.  Trees always hit the ground with a sickening sound you feel as well as hear. Since coming to Hickory Head I have taken down four Oak Trees. All four were dead to some degree or another. Only one had enough life left to have greenery still on some of its branches. One was already dead when I arrived and only a tall stump remained. Each and every one I have regretted felling in a way that only people who love trees might understand.

That’s why it amused me that you took me to task, publically, for trying to chop down a tree. You will notice that I have gone to more than a little trouble to explain what I have done. I think the people who love trees deserve that sort of respect in general, and you in particular.

Back in 2005, nine years ago next month in fact, the top of that tree broke off and fell on my house. It smashed its way into the laundry room and put a branch the size of my leg through the ceiling. It left a hole the size of a car in my roof. The contractor who took the main truck out of my attic did so with such skill I was amazed he didn’t do more damage than he did. But I really didn’t care. I had lost a tree, an ancient Oak, that I would never be able to get back again. It was the first I was to lose but hardly the last.

The odd thing was the tree looked as healthy as any I had ever seen. It was beautiful and green and full of life. The remaining stump grew leaves and had limbs for years but it was doomed. I just can’t bring myself to kill a tree even when it is really dead.

At that point in my life a woman who swore she loved me dumped me, and then returned to me when she found out she had cancer. She didn’t want me back as a lover or a partner but as someone to lean on, and I was happy she did. But I knew I wouldn’t stop loving her and I knew that she wouldn’t love me. It was easier to say good-bye to the woman than the tree, and it was incredibly hard. When it was clear the cancer was gone I went with it. She’s married and has had a child with her new husband.

I thought you could appreciate the parallel here, the tree, healthy and alive, falling, and the woman, disease free, being gone.

You felt obligated to say something about someone killing a tree. I like that in a human being. It’s a rare thing, really, far too rare. You also have gone to battle to protect those you care about and I admire that also. I get the sense from what you write that you feel, at times, isolated and disaffected. You are at times unnecessarily profane. There are times you are cryptic and I wonder why you would go to the trouble to be obtuse but then again, it may not be you.  I would offer you, in exchange for your care of trees, a theory.

I think those people who seem to be “normal” and seem to fit in flawlessly in this world have accepted a reality that is a detriment to our species and the living world as a whole.  I also believe that those of us who are harmed emotionally by this reality are the only group of people who are truly sane.

That’s my theory, Dan.

At least a dozen times since we’ve met I’ve come close to “unfriending” you on Facebook. Some of the thing you’ve written have made me uncomfortable or annoyed me. Yet there is something to be said for living outside the comfort of one’s own life.

Oddly, I feel as if I should thank you for this, also.

If I am correct in my philosophy then loyalty, love, and compassion are intrinsic values of life. This makes you more sane than you believe. It makes you a better person than you know.  You have, without hesitation, defended those you care about and trees.

I like that in a human being and I find it to be far too rare.

Take Care,



  1. I know a man in Oregon with a lot of trees on his property, including a huge tree next to the house which divided into three leaders(trunks) about 50 ft up. One of the leaders broke off in a storm and crushed his roof. Had to rebuild the whole top of the house.
    Six months later on a clear day, a second leader came down without warning. It only missed him because at the sound of the crack he ran without even pausing to look up.
    After cleaning up that mess, he told me he was praying the third leader would stay up because he just loved that tree.
    Another case of love-blinded to reality.