One morning last week I let the cat in through the back door and then just leaned against the window panes for a bit and absent-mindedly stared at the autumn all around.
On the west side of our back yard is an old apple tree and the compost pile. In the center is a little flower bed. And to the east is a huge old willow tree. Except on this day it was lying on its side with roots in the air and branches and limbs strewn over ours and our neighbors’ lawns.
I love our trees the same way I love our pets. Seeing the tree destroyed like that made me want to find a way to set it back up and let it somehow live for a few more years. Magical thinking.
Later on I went outside and was able to look inside the termite damaged trunk. There was a cool spray of dust from the roots slowly falling around me while I was in there. Then I walked around checking out the full length of our old willow and found dozens of bees freaking out near the ground under some limbs. I guess their lives got mightily disrupted because of this.
It must have fallen during the night. Neither my husband nor I heard a thing. It was a complete surprise.
We’ve lived here for twenty-three years, so there are some memories attached to this willow. We had a tire swing in it for awhile. Our cats had chased squirrels up and down it over the years. Lots of birds nested there, naturally. One time, my husband set part of it on fire! By accident, of course. And another time it lost about half its limbs due to a freak October ice storm. That tree just might have had a more interesting life than I have had so far.
My husband and his friend made quick work of it with their chainsaws the other day and I have checked out the new piles of future bonfire wood a couple times. It is kind of satisfying to see the orderliness of it. Plus, we both thought this clean-up would take months (having had experience with only cheap, crappy chainsaws in the past). Instead it took only a few hours with a couple of new, deluxe chainsaws.
Since the carving up, I haven’t been out there at all. I’ve been busy and other things have been on my mind. When I do see the tree from a window every so often, it still surprises me but not with the same twist in my gut as on the first day.
This is the kind of thing my life is about now. And for the time being, or maybe forever, I prefer it to the tedious grind of being out there in the world of work, side by side with mostly strangers, and letting the external pressures of every single thing in the universe take over my poor brain.