September 19, 2016 by Katia
It wasn’t my favourite tree. It wasn’t as imposing as the oak in the backyard. It wasn’t beautiful, or even pretty, not the type of tree that you walk by on a leisurely stroll through the neighbourhood and stop to admire, but it had a face and a history (or was it a biography?) and I discovered that I loved it, when a city forestry representative knocked on our door a few weeks ago back in July to tell me that the tree was sick and that it had to come down. Our front yard tree was marked with a big fluorescent orange dot and a little metallic tablet that day, emblems which in the following weeks have come to stand for “The End”.
“Imagine that,” I told my kids that day “our tree has to come down” and found an echo to my emotions in Ben, who at seven years of age feels things sharply and sees sadness where others miss it.
I liked the tree, as it turned out, on many levels.
I’ve always liked it the way you like something very silly, I liked it despite and I liked it because. I liked it forgivingly and bemusedly. The tree has no rhyme or reason. It always seems to shed. Our next door neighbor would sometimes mention how she finds its leaves everywhere. It tilts to the side in a way that made us wonder whether it was going to fall into our bedroom one day. I wouldn’t put that past our front yard tree. It did give shade but didn’t seem to conform to any other tree guidelines (provide fruit, a sense of stability or at least exude an aura of importance). The tree, to me, was a veiled echo to the lack of order that seems to govern our lives. We’re the family that knows of a birthday party the kids have been invited to weeks in advance, yet gift-shops the day before and leaves the gift wrapping to the last half hour. In attempt to be good to myself I now select the kids’ school clothing in advance and lay it out on the dresser the night before, yet I still manage to spend many of my mornings chasing a pair of clean socks all around the house or trying to locate a stray water bottle. This silly, non-respectable-looking tree never looked down at me. Instead, when it did speak it told me “me too”.
I don’t know if it’s via silliness but for me the tree is somehow also strongly linked to the memory of our American Cocker Spaniel Louisa in a way that bypasses the obvious connection, pee. Maybe after Louisa was gone I needed something else to become the “no rhyme no reason” being that accompanies and validates our way of being. Maybe it’s just because trees are perceived as semi-permanent fixtures and as such they tend to absorb our memories.
I liked how I could stand upstairs in our semi detached small home, look up through the skylight and see two tree tops at once as I stretched my neck to the meeting point of the oak in the backyard and the silly tree in the front, directly connected in a way they weren’t in real life, with a house separating them. There was some sense of gratification in watching both trees conversing, as they seemed to be doing while providing something deep in me with a sense of reassurance I didn’t know I was seeking.
The end was hovering over us for the last few weeks and the truck finally showed up this morning. “Excuse me, are you going to shred our tree?” feverishly asked Ben, always eager to converse. The workers confirmed. I took some pictures and had the boys say goodbye to our tree. I tidied up and wrote to the sound of sawing after walking the kids to school. I expected nothing to be there by the time I pick the kids up at school for lunch. Instead the workers sowed off all the branches leaving just the trunk. The tall tree in our front yard doesn’t seem as tilted anymore. Unencumbered by the leaves it’s tall, proud and dare I say meaningful, as it sends a V sign up to the sky.
Is there an object in your life you didn’t realize you loved until it was gone?
I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck on a hamster wheel with my writing, rehashing the same old topics. Then two things happened that gave me a little jolt.
1. I read this post by Punk Rock Papa and realized I needed to change my tune(s).
2. I heard about the “seven love stories in seven days” writing challenge from Jessica Rapisarda at Welcome to the Bundle and decided to join.
In the next seven days I’ll be highlighting the non-dramatic, small but significant or big (like trees) yet overlooked loves in our lives.