The last of my huge elms was cut down yesterday. It was almost 52' high and more than 12.5 feet around. After a long struggle, it finally lost the battle to Dutch elm disease and stood a skeletal remnant of itself this spring, hovering over my yard like an apparition of Death.
All I have are memories of its enormous canopy arching over two back yards for almost three decades, a protective layer of shade cooling our porches and houses, its gargantuan branches reaching down to touch me when the wind blew.
When the equipment came to take it down, I was long gone. I couldn't bear to watch the beautiful, long limbs of my lovely tree as they were amputated one by one and sacrificed to the woodchipper. So I left my house early for work. And didn't return until almost dark.
I decided not to stay to be a sentry, supervising the gang of tree workers who would no doubt damage my flowerbeds and fence if I weren't there. But I preferred to risk whatever might happen rather than suffer the agony of losing a friend.
The trucks were still there when I got home. It had taken them almost ten hours to remove it. One last limb was being fed to the chipper. I noticed they were about to remove the stump. And I stopped them.
Let it be, I said. Let it be a headstone. A monument to the memories of almost half my lifetime. And a tree I loved more than a lot of people I know.