September 8, 2022: When a Tree Falls
My father loved to tease me with philosophical questions when I was still too young to realize their implications. For example, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
As a child (maybe ten), I chose what seemed like the obvious opinion of, "Of course it makes a sound; how could it not!?" We'd go back and forth as he would ask, "but how do you know for sure?"
In the early morning hours of August 21st, 2022, a storm hit our area knocking down trees and power lines. We weren't at home. We didn't know that a large branch from an old tree in our backyard broke free and crashed to the ground. (Did it make a sound?)
My son, who'd been tasked with checking on the house in our absence (mostly to feed the ducks I've spoken of in previous months) discovered the limb and gave us a call. To our amazement, our neighbor whose house and bedroom lay not even feet away, and whose back door had been blocked by said branch, never heard the tree fall.
Miraculously, this branch weighing thousands of pounds and extending the length of our yard and some, fell, landing on a free-standing, wood swing, traversed through a small gap in a hedge of viburnum bushes, and landed somewhat gracefully in the small space between our neighbor's garage and the back of their house.
None of our patio furniture, our glass gazing ball, pottery decorations, or even our plants and flowers, suffered any damage. And even after the tree company surgically removed the many tines of thick limbs woven through our viburnum, one could barely tell the massive branch had ever fallen at all. Only the scar left on the tree from where the branch once lived remained to tell the tale.
But a tree isn't just a tree.
Many years ago while working with a client, her mother passed away. They had lived together for most of my client's long life. They had a loving relationship, yet the mother often overshadowed the daughter. Always wanting to please her mother, she'd stress over small details, frantic if something wasn't just so. It absolutely had to be the way her mother would want it.
Not even a month after her mother's passing, an enormous tree uprooted and fell in her backyard. After weeks of cleanup, she lamented how her yard had been planted around the encompassing shade of the tree and how, now that the tree had been removed, even the flowers and plants needed a change since what had once flourished there could not handle the full sun that now brandished the yard.
I couldn't help but see the correlation between the passing of her mother and the removal of the tree. The change blossomed in the garden of her life in subsequent years. She met the man of her dreams, traveled, and has, for the most part, enjoyed her senior years immensely. Though the tree loomed large for most of her life, its removal made room for new opportunities.
Does the felling of our tree have some mirrored life significance? Of course. But that revelation will have to wait until the next newsletter along with the removal of the rest of the tree.