The men and their crew are gone now — the same men who were here two weeks ago pruning my backyard trees, removing three of them and grinding down their stumps. I hate when that has to happen. I love my trees. I wish the men and their crew weren’t coming back today to take down and grind up the big Maple in my front yard. “It’ll give you a lot more light when it’s gone,” one of them said. “You’ll like it.” He was wrong. I didn’t want more light. I wanted my Maple tree.
“We’ll grind down the stump and all those invasive roots,” said the younger one, “tear out its heart and soul so nothing comes back ... smooth the ground level all around ... you’ll never know it had been there.”
But of course I would know. He looked stunned when I suggested he could have said that some other way, but the older one understood and ducked his head. “I hate to have to take them out, too,” he mumbled, “but this one’s diseased. It’s a goner.” I liked him better after that. I liked both of them in the end — the burly, black-bearded dad and his identical son — and trusted them to leave my tree its dignity if not its life.
My admiration for trees began in the wooded area of the New Westminster municipality just down Kingsway southeast of Vancouver BC in my seventh year. I spent days sharing secrets with that dusky grove of trees behind the cabin where we lived. Once my eyes grew accustomed to the shadows, I could lose myself in their surprises for hours, watching camouflaged lizards dart in jumps and starts up and down tree trunks, changing color to match the bark they clung to.
You don’t take trees for granted if you’ve loved them in your youth ... if you’ve spent long summer afternoons cradled in the arms of your aunt’s towering cherry tree winding its glistening threads of sap round and around a Y twig, admiring the web you’ve created; popping the ripest of the bright red fruit into your mouth; ignoring your aunt’s pleas to, “Get yourself down here this instant before you fall and break your neck!”
I doubt you can love a tree properly if you didn’t make their acquaintance early in life, if instead you spent your seventh year caught up in the tele-frenzy of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Phineas and Ferb” and the like. I wonder if one day legions of tele-frenzied adults will still value the secrets they shared with their cartoon characters as much as I value the secrets a lifetime of trees has shared with me.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.