Requiem for a Tree

douglas firsOnce upon a time where I live was a thick, dark forest, a rainforest of evergreen trees, an ecosystem filled with perfect cycles for the creatures that lived there, with creeks and wetlands and unimaginable beauty. The trees grew so thickly that they held each other up in storms.  All before the white man came and clear-cut the forests for wood to build big ships and big houses and every kind of enterprise. Smoke on the horizons day and night, trees burning, splintered tree flesh left to rot and forgotten. Nothing but mud and ugliness, but the men got their profit. This destruction went on for years, for decades, for a century and more. And now non-native trees grow everywhere in their place, with an occasional cedar or Douglas fir rising majestically above the madness below, dignified trees lonesome and forlorn, and when the windstorms come, without the support of its brothers and sisters, another one topples.

Why don’t I think like other people do? It would be so much easier. Even as I write these words, across the street a tree-trimming service is sawing off the limbs of a large Douglas fir tree, one after the other, limbs falling, falling, crashing with whispers to the ground. All that will be left is a naked trunk with dozens of round wounds. And when the trimmers are finished trimming the limbs, they will climb to begin cutting down the crown, then foot-by-foot, yard-by-yard the trunk will be sectioned and the sections lowered to the ground with ropes and pulleys. In an hour or so there will be no tree, nothing but a stump, and even the stump will be dragged, roots and all, from the earth.

Why does this destruction of trees bother me so much. I am sitting with headphones on, music cranked up, to drown out the buzz saw drone, to drown out the images of a dying tree that once provided beauty and shade for free, in the silence of natural things. My heart aches with an ache I cannot describe. Why do humans always get their way with things? In the ancient of times, in the times of majestic trees, no one used hatchets, saws, shovels, pulleys or anything else against the earth. Every time a tree is felled more of the earth and more of my soul fall with it.

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