Reflections on the Death of a Tree

Pinyon Tree 1901-2014 Photo Credit: P. Nixon

Pinus edulis 1901-2014
Photo Credit: P. Nixon

The forest stands at the door, a lone man in a light
green shirt. An owl sits in his hat, confessing
simple hymns that are scarfed into clouds.  The man
holds a small box of baby birds and insects covered
in leaves. The pathway he took to town
is a small umbrella of gems:  bloodroot and hickory,
trillium and oak, an avalanche of wise eyes sighing,
the constant monologue of hummingbird wings.
Stiff from walking such a distance through autumn’s
altar, his many limbs are twisted. He salutes me,
then gently stomps muddy feet on the doorstep.

From The Forest Man by Lauren Camp*

It wasn’t disease or drought that killed the old piñon tree last summer.

Dave and I tried to save it. An arborist took a core sample and counted the rings—113. In the end, to resolve a long-running dispute, we let it go. I didn’t watch the bulldozer knock it down.

The contractor brought in two trees from up north to replace the old pine and planted them a few feet away from the new driveway.

The transplants with no history of this place remind me of us twenty years ago.  It was a cold January afternoon and the sun was low in the sky, but one long look at the mountains in the distance and a deep breath of the pine-scented air convinced us. It has taken time, but we’ve made this quiet little corner of New Mexico home.

Last night, Christmas night, a few inches of snow fell, blanketing the trees and the earth beneath them.  The moisture will help the newcomers spread their roots and settle in.

*Many thanks to Lauren for allowing me to use an excerpt of her poem.  I recommend reading the entire poem  in About Place Journal where it was published in the spring of 2013.




One thought on “Reflections on the Death of a Tree

  1. Wonderful piece, Paula. Peaceful, reflective, and absolutely clear. And thanks for the opening quote. I’m going to follow up on that writer.

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