October 25, 2016

An Ash Tree was Felled

An ash tree I planted in my yard more than thirty years ago was felled today, victim of the emerald ash borer. The tree didn't cost me anything, just the effort of walking a few hundred yards and wheeling the young tree home from the yard of new homeowners, and digging a hole to plant it in. Digging the hole in Virginia clay was by far the most strenuous part. The tree took to my yard, did well, and grew taller than the house. I have to admit it caused problems at time, mostly shedding leaves in the gutters. But by and large it was good for the yard and good for me. There were lots of hours spent grilling and relaxing in the shade of that ash tree and the maple I planted in the back.

There wasn't a relationship with the tree exactly. Apart from the initial effort of putting it in, I can't claim long hours conversing with the tree or tending it, just enjoying it. I expect to miss it for a long time—I still think my yard doesn't look right without a cherry tree we had to take out of the front yard a few years ago. I can't explain it, but I feel that a satisfying friendship is missing. I'm not going to struggle with it, just retreat to the the words of a poem I learned even before I planted the tree, Thomas Kinsella's "Mirror in February."