Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Tree Is Dead

This is the third and, I hope, final session that the tree removal people will have in taking down the neighbors’ poplar tree. I loved that tree and I mourn its loss. It was tall, provided lots of shade and shelter to birds in the neighborhood. It bloomed in the spring, a tulip poplar, they call it.

It was between my neighbors’ house and the house to the north of them. I liked to look at it through my office windows and other windows on the north side of my house. Blackbirds and crows, finches, tits and the occasional hawk would perch in it. Doves would call from it in the evenings.
Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Yes, I have hugged a tree, lots of them. When I had the choice between taking down the live oak in my back yard and taking down the remnants of the summerhouse competing for space, I chose to keep the tree. There is something sacred about a tree that can never be matched, even if the summerhouse had been rebuilt. I would prefer the birds and squirrels, the acorns and the occasional spider.

When I had the chance to go back to my grade school in Orlando, it was a Sunday afternoon so naturally no one was there. No one, that is, but at least one of the trees that had been there when I was a child. Oh, welcome friend! I could not only rub the coquina-rock steps with my hand, a place I had stood and had my picture taken long ago, steps I had run down too swiftly only to halt at the curb, cautioned by the crosswalk guard, then walked purposefully away from to fly like a lark on the tall swings and leap from the highest arc to fly, for a moment, to the sand and grass below. I could not only touch those stone steps but I could also rub the bark of the old trees that shaded my memory palace.

I would hug trees, talk to them, hide my secrets in their branches, build tree houses and tree forts, respite from the weight of the earth below. I would stretch out on a sturdy branch and snooze, like a cat or a squirrel, and only come down when I had to. I would haul great pieces of wood, the bones of other trees, to make my sacred spots among the branches. I would apologize for my awkwardness, that I was not a bird or anything else more graceful or grateful than a child.

I climb no trees now for I am less graceful than a child, but more grateful for trees. So I mourn the tulip poplar I have watched from my office window for so many years. There is a reason to kill a tree, I understand. I just don’t understand what it is.

I am more pleased than ever that I chose as my ten-year work anniversary gift the planting of ten trees somewhere, anywhere, of any sort whatever. The tulip poplar had somehow grown to be a burden to the human world, too big a tree near too-close houses. My apology is the hope that new trees planted somewhere else, like the Ace of Wands, will someday inspire someone else to plant more and mourn the death of one tree, someday to learn its language to tell the others how sorry I was for the loss of my friend.

The uninterrupted sky is no welcome sight.

Best wishes.


  1. Wonderful post, Marcia. I can totally relate. I can recount many incidents over the course of my life where I was deeply saddened by the removal of a tree. In one case, the roots of a neighbor's beautiful fir tree were starting to work their way under their house and they removed the tree. Not only did I miss its majestic evergreen presence, but when it was gone, suddenly I could see every backyard all the way down the block. Ugh. Where we live now, we are surrounded by trees, including a huge oak in the front yard. I am so grateful. I remember visiting the site of a minor Revolutionary War battle that is now a school playground. As I gazed at the enormous trees, I realized it was possible that one of them could have been there, in much smaller form, during the actual battle. Amazing and humbling.

  2. I would like to think I am too old to climb trees. But when my little one gets his helicopter stuck in one, up I go.