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Other than the fascination of watching the process, when I was young I never thought much about trees being cut down, cut into pieces and hauled away. I observed from a distance and figured there were still many healthy trees out there.

As I’ve gotten older I have come to appreciate many things in a new light. Today, I have a good vantage point from my kitchen window as two of our tallest trees are being removed. A huge maple snapped in half during a recent wind storm, and a boxelder has been dead for a while and was in dangerous proximity to our neighbors’ new fence. These amazing professionals are making quick work of this project, knowing exactly where to begin, what tools to use, the best way to gain access, and how and when to get out of the way! What teamwork! They proceeded to cut the larger branches first that were still intact before moving to the trunk. 

As they made the first cuts, the falling limbs crashed to the ground creating an audible thud that shook the earth around us. They fell quite remarkably between the other large trees, causing only gentle movements in the nearby branches resembling a light wind before the rain. Though it was sad to watch, I was caught off guard when tears welled up in my eyes. Suddenly, I felt such strong gratitude for all this tree had provided during its long lifetime. This old tree had weathered many storms as it struggled to grow taller and taller reaching toward the sun. Heavy rain and winds resulting from nearby tornadoes and after effects of coastal hurricanes; snow and ice storms when the weight on supporting branches caused them to bend and stretch their limits; years of drought; occasions of opportunistic vines and insects removing some of the tree’s strength little by little. All of these trials, and yet this tree still seemed so strong, beautiful and invincible. Until one day it met its match.

Thank you for the huge amount of shade you provided, which we just realized as the nearby homes became more visible. This shade created a cooler space for my husband to work in the yard and our grandchildren to play. Thank you for providing a safe haven for so many of the backyard creatures we enjoy watching. My view of this yard with its greenery and wildlife was a main resource for my sanity during the pandemic. We’ve always marveled at the way the deer disappear so quickly from plain sight just going a few feet into the wooded area, shaded in large part from this beautiful maple. You probably held countless varieties of bird and squirrel nests over the years; a place to hide from danger, storms, and predators. The squirrels loved practicing their gymnastic skills, chasing each other in circles around the trunk, and testing the resilience of your smaller branches bowing under their weight as they jumped and landed with abandon. And, try as I might, I could stand beneath your branches trying to spot the birds singing their sweet songs so loudly on a cool, spring morning, but they were well hidden while watching me and our energetic pup from a safe distance. You were in the perfect spot to provide a lookout position for birds to make sure the coast was clear as they flew back and forth to enjoy a meal from our feeders. And I’m pretty sure the owls I would hear when I was awake in the middle of the night were comfortably holding space and keeping watch from your branches near our upstairs windows. You and your many giant companions have done a great job of reducing noise and air pollution in this area - much needed in the busy suburbs of a big city.

Most of my focus has been on the majestic and beautiful maple closest to our home. The boxelder (unidentified until a visit from the tree expert) was further back and had lost all of its leaves long ago. It was actually taller than our maple, but had thinner branches and a small trunk. I didn’t think as much about removing it, though I’m sure in its current state it housed and fed a woodpecker or two. I researched the boxelder to learn more, and discovered these trees are actually great pollinators since the flowers bloom early, and are excellent at preventing erosion since they grow well and quickly near streams and wet soil. After a good rain, the water runs freely through the deepest part of our wooded lot, so I’m sure that was the reason this particular tree was chosen for that area. Also, the limbs lower easily providing shelter for small animals on the ground. I guess that is why the amazing brute of a machine which was used to haul away the branches and trunk portions easily pulled most of this tree through the woods and up the steep hill in one trip.

Maybe it takes reaching this stage of life to fully recognize and appreciate the wonderful things of this earth that bring us pleasure and comfort just by their mere existence. Thank you, God, for the reminder and the remarkable intricacies of our world.

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