Most emphatically Yes!
A few weeks back some young men representing city officials showed up on our street and cut down a healthy maple which was somewhere between 60 and 80 years old. I don’t want to tell the story about how this happened although I strongly believe an article should be written in our local paper about it. There is an important cautionary tale to be heard here. Especially since it was, at best, a stupid mistake. At worst it could be something darker… maybe like a criminal interest in firewood. The house owners aren’t sure they want the story told so I’m not going to.
No. I’m going to write about the impact on me.
I wasn’t there to see this tree fall so I can’t answer Bruce Cockburn’s question about hearing it. I certainly heard the impact on neighbours and saw how this amazing shade bringer (which our short street is well known for) cracked the side walk as it came thundering down. Like it was outraged. I saw how the stump oozed life-giving water and nutrients for at least a week after it was cut down. It was a violation. That’s how I feel: my neighbourhood has been violently violated. And just so needlessly.
Perhaps this is a little thing in a world where people are going hungry (needlessly), rain forests are being cut down (needlessly) and the climate is being raped (needlessly) in the self-imposed wrist-slashing we call global warming (notice how it’s not ‘human-imposed global warming’ but rather something that sounds like we weren’t responsible). Maybe it’s a blessing to the tree to be taken down before it parches its way through a slow death due to climate change. Maybe I am just (needlessly) annoyed at a little less shade during the hot years to come. Maybe I don’t like the (needlessly) possible impact on my property value.
But to me it’s more. Not to go too deep ecology or anything but this was an organism older than most humans on our street. Mr. Maple deserved to live as much as I or you did. Well that’s just crazy talk, that is. Maybe. But as I ride up the street these mornings, beside the tangible lacks, there’s something… something else… that’s missing.
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