This weekend a neighbor chose to remove a tree. It was a maple, most likely a swamp maple that has a limited life span and becomes dangerous as it ages. If if fell it would have caused major damage to at least three houses in the neighborhood. It was sixty to seventy feet high,thirty to forty years old and took an entire day to take down. As I watched this brave man determine how next to proceed, the saddest things were that this tree was blooming and a memory of some 15 years ago when the trees on each side of my street met each other like two hands with fingers interlocked. As I watched the tree taken down I saw evidence that parts had been affected by disease and therefore, the decision by the homeowner while heartbreaking, were necessary.
The swamp maple in my back yard has been talked to many times during nor'easters and bad summer storms. Despite its ragged appearance and its annoying tendency to send whirligigs in spring and fall, we have a deal --it will continue to shade my backyard as long as it is able without sending major branches crashing onto the cars parked in driveway and I will fight to keep it standing.
Road work and age have taken many of these trees and have been replaced with flowering pear trees which are now in bloom. While pretty, the flowering pears cannot replace the majesty of a great old tree.
When I moved here in 1994, there was that type of tree right across the street. Its trunk was probably four foot in diameter and its height, sixty feet tall. A beauty. Many a spring and summer evening were spent sitting on the second floor porch with my sister and her partner discussing life, work, my nephews, all the while the branches of the great tree blending with the sunset. It was a beautiful tree that succumbed to the drought we had in 1999. We cried when that tree was taken down but knew given its leafless branches in June, that it was time.
Thankfully many towns, as has mine, have adopted replanting new trees on property owners land as opposed to town land (sidewalks)to lessen the impact of road and sewer work that has to be done in older towns.
So for now, we are left with our memories of the great trees and the hope that comes from planting new trees.
As I write this thunder is rolling through the sky with lightning not unlike that I have witnessed in New Mexico. Stepping outside I watch the stand of sixty foot evergreens shimmer and see a hawk fly into the light. Not bad for a town that is just 15 miles from Manhattan.
Perhaps, this Earth Day we should all take a walk and relish the 'green' that is in our world,notice that the 'green' is in fact living in spite of its environment and then think about what it is we can do to further its progress.
Imagine your world without the shade of a tree in the heat of summer or the feel of green grass beneath your toes or your children's toes...think about what it takes for that tree to survive and the grass to thrive. If we each take that moment to see and understand a world without 'green', then the steps will be clear.