We used to have a big tree in our front yard that towered above everything else in our subdivision, an artifact of what Garden City was in like in the 1800’s, long before our little red house on Krauter street was even on a blueprint. Long before I was on a blueprint.
Deep in the woods of Michigan a sapling grew. It was given the time needed to be big enough for the developers to leave it alone while cutting down its surrounding brothers and sisters to make room for suburban infrastructure. This tree saw it all, from running deer to earth moving machines, all the while standing strong. Ready to keep being a tree in its new context.
It really was the biggest tree in our neighborhood, growing rather ironically in the yard of the smallest house in our neighborhood. Our house stayed the same size as the behemoth grew up, higher, wider and of a larger trunk. When something gets to be that old, it has time to become a behemoth.
I remember when Dad threw the little kite string over the branch in order to put a much larger rope around it to hold a swing. It wasn’t long until most of our front yard was dirt, what with all the foot traffic under the swing which became a regular attraction for neighborhood kids. Being such a big tree, it seemed like holding up a third grader was nothing, almost overkill, like a crane lifting a paper clip.
It seemed invincible, this gargantuan tree whose roots were eating into our sewer system and whose branches could easily see the neighboring city of Inkster. Then one day it got windy. The neighbors came out to watch, albeit from a distance, as it sway grew wider and wider in the wind. So big and so old, it would creak and crack in a way that would make all of us think that “this could be the day that the ol’ tree falls” It would have crushed our house and probably Rose & Mark’s, the neighbor’s house, too. When it got stormy, we would all brace ourselves at least a little bit. Trees grow up, grow old, and, eventually, topple.
One day a crew showed up with ladders, chainsaws, a chipper/trailer and rope. This time, the rope was not to make a swing but to carefully lower limbs from 80 feet to 0 feet. What took possibly 100 years to make took only a day to be unmade. I know that trees are alive but I don’t think they have a soul. It’s just another tree, another element of God’s creation. But to me, it was the end of an era. That tree had been there since I was, and now it was being hauled away after being dismantled in my front yard, which now had full exposure to the sun. Its trunk, once responsible for supporting the vast array of bark, branch and leaf was now merely a grave marker which got ground up the next week.
I’d like to think that it ended up being a tall bookshelf or maybe a Sauder entertainment center.
That would be nice.