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Holding It All Together

By Amy McCollom
Because of That Tree
I must admit, it was an ugly old tree.  It was very tall; towering above our neighbor’s 2-story house.  It was crooked, balding, and cartoonish as if it were plucked right from the pages of a Dr. Seuss children’s book.  It leaned as if it were falling in slow motion, as many years of windy days had bent it’s trunk like the humped over back of an old man..  We knew it was only a matter of time before we would hear a loud crack and down it would come; it could land on our house, vehicle, the street, or our neighbor’s house or vehicles.  Our neighbor was fearful of the same thing, which spurred along our decision to have it cut down. Since the tree was an Aspen pine, skinny and tall, and half-dead, we called a professional to cut it down.  We had to dip into our savings a little, because of that tree.

Special thanks to Leaf It To Us for doing such a great job, by the way, and they cleaned up everything afterwards too.  They were quick, efficient, professional, and very polite. They also were the cheapest bid around.  We loved them!

I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when the men came and started cutting it down, though.  It was like friendly arms being removed from a dead Father Nature. Those branches held nests filled with precious baby birds, warm eggs of hope, and homes for creatures that came every year to make new nests there.  A lot of animals thrived and found comfort and safety over the years, because of that tree.

I just had to know, so I picked up a piece of the trunk that was sliced, and counted the rings.  How long had this big boy been here? I counted 72 rings. I wondered how it got here, what all had the tree had endured through the years, and what would it say if it could talk?  I reminisced about the history of my street, the neighbors who have come and gone, and how things have changed for  the better AND worse in our little community. I thought about a lot of things that I hadn’t before, because of that tree.

I thought of my dad.  As that old bent tree was taken down, it’s limbs ground into sawdust; once immovable by the strongest of winds, strength to the core, thick scarred bark protecting the vulnerable inner parts.  As my dad battled against his final storm named cancer, I watched as the storm slowly took down the limbs of his life. He was leaning, bent, and his bark was slipping off in places, showing his humanity, weakness, hurt, pain, core being, and inner strength.  He never fell to the storm. And although my dad is gone from this earth, parts of him will always be in the family who remain and the values and love that he shared. I realized this, because of that tree.

The next morning, I opened the front door and was in awe at the beautiful sunrise.  As long as I have lived in our house, I had never seen a sunrise. But now that the tree is gone, the sun had a clear path to our front porch.  It was like seeing the morning for the first time! I looked up and down the street, and it was like a completely different neighborhood. I could see almost 4 blocks now!  I could see flower gardens, neighbors on front porches, American flags hung by front doors, and the busyness of the morning rush. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing, because of that tree.

But, you know, I am kind of missing that big ole tree.  I am thankful that I no longer have to worry about it falling on our neighbors house every time the wind blows hard; but now that it is gone, I am a little sad.  I learned a few things because of that tree.

Because of that tree, I learned that you don’t have to be perfect, beautiful, or like everyone else to be useful and important.  Having strong roots is the most important thing in this world because storms are going to come. You can bend without breaking. Water and sunshine is good for you.  It’s good to have a thick bark to protect you from the outside world. Your real beauty is on the inside. And be kind to animals; feed the birds and the squirrels. Sometimes they become homeless too.  I have learned to always look for lessons around me. And I even had an idea for a column, because of that tree.

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