Patterns & Signs: On killing old trees

Sunlight through branches of an old tree

Earth Day was the reminder that I have been here for four years, only four years, although these days, weeks feel like months so years feel like an eternity.

When I first saw her, I thought “wow…she’s old!” Her roots, sprawling across the yard were providing stability for her wide bottom, securing her future even though her fruit were slow to reveal themselves and her many branches were unsteady. Yet, I was in awe of her.

The inspector pointed out that she would have to be cut, on one side you could see how she was threatening my own protection, our house/his future wealth, my right-then investment. Her roots were cracking the foundation just outside my door. Her far reaching trunk was hampering the sun’s light, starving smaller, younger life beneath her.

In the tumult of several rainy days, branches snapped, limbs scraped the rooftop and weedy grass revealed the persistent gasp her roots now made to stake the soil and hold on.

Like this moment, I decided to take the old and beautiful thing down. No real memorial just a single picture of her…along with the promise that I will plant more in place of her. I will be thoughtful about the sure history that will come later–after years of support and care. I will choose ones whose roots run deep rather than wide…whose growth will be intentionally slow rather than fast and sure to be overturned when the next and certain storm comes.

Like this moment, I will think about her as I pen a new plan.

Yes, the ecosystem of this yard has changed like the educational landscape I am witnessing in this moment. Perhaps it is time to re-imagine my garden.

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