Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ash Tree Down

Once I believed in you; I planted a fig tree.
Here, in Vermont, country
of no summer. It was a test: if the tree lived,
it would mean you existed.
                                                -- Louise Glück

The wind blew down much of our old ash tree last night. If I was a better citizen I'd be out there right now sawing off the branches so as to clear the sidewalk, but instead I'm at Tom's having my usual leisurely breakfast. I'll get it later. I reckon I make up sixty percent of the foot traffic on our sidewalk, anyway: our neighborhood is not -- in that sense -- very pedestrian.

The ash is not one of my favorite trees. I've never been very partial to ashes, and this one has been moping and dropping limbs ever since I've known it. It has supported a surprising number of fungi -- always something new popping up -- but I'm not grieving for it. It still has one ramshackle mast standing, but we might just give up on it and plant something else there. I wonder if a birch would do well?

I'm often passionately attached to trees, so my indifference to this one troubles me a little. But there it is. I may not make friends with many more trees in my life: I find my ability to form firm attachments is dwindling. I am a little mopey myself, maybe: the long march through the giving season is beginning to tell, and I feel I've missed my footing several times, this winter, coming down hard on unexpectedly slanted surfaces that have given way. I grow circumspect, with shrewish, waspish impulses that surprise and trouble me. I don't want to go that direction.

Trying, perhaps, too hard, too much, too long.

Other things have opened, meanwhile, unlooked for: unexpected late blossoms. And I am slowly gathering strength. Winter and its clarity have come late, this year, but the rains are building up over our heads even now: we should have a real downpour this afternoon, to wash the world clean. I am ready for it.


alembic said...

I envy you the rain. It's been nothing but sunny skies in my part of the world for so long that all color has been bleached from the landscape...

Zhoen said...

We may get your leftover rain, and welcome as well. Clear some of the ice, a moment of ease.

Perhaps someone would like the wood from your ash?

Facing who I keep becoming has been baffling and dismaying at times.

Kathleen said...

We lost a pine tree this fall. I'm glad you weren't too attached to the tree. Wishing you well with the tree work, when it happens.

JMartin said...

A discomfiting diminishment in love of trees! I find myself attached now only to ornamentals, and the oldest of hardwoods. Is our joy tainted by knowing how briefly our lives will intersect?

A sole Japanese maple in a pea-gravel courtyard strikes me as perfect. (There may be a bald cypress exception, primarily for the globular, mold-green cones.)

rbarenblat said...


Tom said...

Lost most of one of our two eucalyptus trees in the recent storms. A great pity, but at least it came down in our garden and will be turned into wood ash for our convenience. I don't mind ash trees; it's their b----y seeds that get everywhere that I detest. There isn't a hedge in the neighbourhood that doesn't have cuckoo/seedlings growing through them.

kristenburkholder said...

Always good to know the limits of concern and care. I used to think, for example, that I just adored all cats, but having taken on an obstreperous octogenarian feline out of what Nathan and I felt to be the ultimate kindness, I find my opinion of them has soured (wakes us nearly every morning with screaming and howling down the hall for her breakfast), as listening to my own mid-winter griping and fussing has becone equally unwelcome. Let's hear it for rain.