The piercing and unmistakable noise of nearby chain saws woke me early on April Fools Day. I headed to my living room to investigate and saw tree service trucks lined up across the street from my house. My eyes followed the direction of the noise. There, in a lift truck was a man removing the limbs of an ancient and mighty willow tree one limb at a time, at my across the street neighbors’ house. “Oh, Dear God, no,” I said out loud, “Not my tree of life.” When I moved into my house ten years ago as a newly divorced single Mom, the sight of this magnificent tree, and her adjacent matching sister across the creek with their many trunks and branches outstretched to the sky reminded me of trees of life.
I often took comfort in looking at them from my window as they provided refuge for many birds in the winter and their cascading yellow leaves kept watch over the creek during the summer. Many evenings I watched in awe in the rising full moon silhouetted by their branches as I observed from my couch, and I sat on my front porch many a day staring at double arced rainbows behind them. On stressful work days I would sometimes come home and give an intentional glace behind me to be reassured by their presence before I stepped inside.
I wanted to go screaming from my house to the tree-cutting team and beg them to stop, when my calming inner voice spoke a word I have learned to practice for inner peace, “Allow”. Instead I watched for a while until I could stand it no longer. Seeking shelter behind my house, I went into the backyard and felt her pain as I heard her branches run through the tree chopper; another unbearable sound. I cried and called a friend. It took the crew three hours to bring her down, who knows how much longer for her to grow. When the machines were quiet, I went back to the window and cringed at the empty space. Her sister was still standing. And then the trucks moved up the road for easier access. It didn’t take me long to realize that she was next and the pattern repeated itself. I couldn’t pull myself away from the scene as I watched them expertly take her last impossibly thick and tall trunk down. It fell to the ground with a force that shook my house. Then they chopped her up into manageable pieces, raked up the remains and called it a day. Watching them haul off the carcass reminded me of a funeral procession. I cried again and called another friend who also understood. She had just the right words when she said, “It is a great honor to be the last person to be with a being as they die.” That really hit home, and was the perfect message that my heart needed to hear.
Later in the evening during my sunset gratitude meditation, I thought about my events of the day. There was the first Zoom call to get better acquainted with a LinkedIn contact from the UK. We are very likeminded in terms of the services we offer to others regarding emotional wellness. His name is Willow. Smiles, the Universe understands synchronicity. I also thought about the tree crew. There were at least seven of them. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Yet here they were working together without masks, collaborating to accomplish their daily mission, able to still work and provide for themselves and their families. A true sign or normalcy in a world gone mad.
And then I remembered two palm trees. Last week a friend (a western New York native like me) who is moving to Florida offered me his two six-foot artificial palm trees. At first I readily accepted. After further contemplation however, I called him up to politely decline, because I laughed at the delusion of my being satisfied with those replicas in my living room during long cold winters while my friends are frolicking amongst the real palm trees in the tropics. I will pursue my active beach life again. And I’ll find a way to align that with my desire to help others.
Two trees, two situations, two lessons. Too blessed.