It feels like this city is on a mission to remove every mature tree in sight.
So I’m on a mission to document them before they’re removed.
See this row of mature trees lining the sidewalk on the east end of Main Street? They’re all marked for destruction.
There are many mature trees on this lot, and every single one of them is now marred by a fluorescent orange band of paint. Several have a bold “X” for added emphasis, or perhaps to add an element of clarity in case there was any doubt. Some are definitely dead. But many others look fine to me!
I feel like this dovetails nicely with the plot of Once Removed.
I used to work with a woman who had a degree in this kind of thing. Heaven help me, I forget the name of her degree. But she knew trees. One day over lunch, we walked through the trees of a nearby park… and she was horrified by what she saw. She told me then that a large swath of our city’s trees were going to have to come down because they had not been well taken-care of and also had not been well-chosen for this region, prone to disease and infestation, so now the trees were suffering. I hoped she was wrong. Fast forward several years and here we are, her prophecy seems to be coming true. Either she was right, or this city just has a thing for taking down trees.
Andrew and I once owned a house. We lived in it for 14 years. A major selling point for us had been the giant elm in center of the backyard. It beautifully shaded many picnics with friends and family over the years. We loved that tree. One year, we came home from vacation to find it marked with an orange band and a little metal tag. It was diseased; it had to go. After the tree had been removed, Andrew and I removed ourselves as well. We bought a condo. This hasn’t stopped me from loving other trees… but I am concerned about each tree I admire. I wonder, will I ever see it again? Too many have met the same fate.
People told me it was the natural order of things, that trees sometimes just have to come down. (I secretly wonder about those people.)
Did you see the recent issue of Heritage Posting? It’s the newsletter from the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society. In this most recent issue, I reviewed Lois Braun’s newest book, Peculiar Lessons: How Nature and the Material World Shaped a Prairie Childhood. I was spellbound by the way Braun weaved childhood memories with art and science. In a chapter entitled “Shady Glades and Morning Glory”, she takes us into the world of trees, and references a different book which I now want to read, called The Hidden Life of Trees. In this book, the point is made, scientifically, that trees need community to stay alive and be supported. I guess that’s not so different from people.
In 2014, Andrew and I spend four days in the Peruvian Amazon. We stayed at a Treehouse Lodge which could only be reached by boat. Andrew booked us the suite that was located in the very highest tree, at the top of the rainforest canopy. At the end of our jungle stay, we spent one night in Iquitos, and had booked a tour guide for the day. We saw some fantastic things that day, but we also saw something devastating too. Reams of felled trees were being shipped. Like, astounding amounts. It was horrifying. I think my brain tried to block it out.
I see beauty in these trees’ age, their girth, their warts, their scars… their roots.
They provide calm and shade, and the way they dance in storms is incredible.
So, removal of old important, beautiful trees is nothing new, nor is it exclusive to predominantly Mennonite regions.
But, not everyone removes their trees.