I watched a tree die

I watched a tree die

We were having coffee at a cafe. Across the street I saw a van pull up and men jump out. Hubby and I watched as they hoisted a cable around a palm tree, and threw a ladder up the side.

A man in a yellow cap and shorts climbed the ladder, turned on the chainsaw, and began to slice.

In a three minutes the palm tree was cut in half. In eight, the entire trunk, roots, leaves, and branches were being mulched, fed by two of the men into a shredder of sorts. Afterwards they brushed up the bits from the sidewalk and drove away.

Nothing left of the tree that moments before stood tall and beautiful.

I turned to Hubby, a bit of cappuccino froth caught on his chin, and asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being snuffed out like that? One moment, standing tall and beautiful, having seen and known so much. The next, desiccated?”

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” he said.

I stifled a sob.

“Darling,” he said warmly, patting me on the knee, “this is all you’ve got to worry about.” He pointed to the black sweater I was wearing.

It read, in white words, I like today.

But I thought about that palm tree all afternoon and night. I know everything is transient, that the only true and remaining thing is the soul. Living for today is the truth. Yet its death was so sudden. Its life so uncelebrated.

Lying in bed that night, I imagined all the tree had witnessed in its lifetime. The conversations and quarrels of lovers, friends, siblings. People getting together, people breaking apart. People walking underneath it. People walking away from it. It regal, with its bird’s eye view.

The roar of human and car traffic. The hum of planes flying overhead. Dog owners bending down to pet their canines. Surfboards tucked under arms running towards the beach. Golden haired girls laughing and flashy. Golden haired guys laughing and skateboarding. Pensioners walking, wobbly on legs and hips, with small overweight dogs trying to keep step.

Hubby and I walking underneath the tree. Not only today, but many a time. Were we part of your memories? Were we etched into the bark of your trunk?

Those thousands of different colours and moods of the ocean and the sky that passed above you. Those hundreds of different sights, sights, and emotions of the movement of human life that passed below you.

Your tree memories: Where are they now?

You lived. You died. You gave us oxygen.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I thought about the tree all night. In case I was the only person mourning its life.

in White Light + Love,

Belinda
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