Those Were Our Trees
Four soft maples stood tall when we met this old house,
three feet of snow snuggling their trunks against
below zero temperature on that December day.
We came to know them better later, their
hidden roots gently lifting the narrow sidewalk, slightly
rearranging continents of concrete, adjusting the topography.
We cheered the end of their winter dormancy, their
buds popping soft and red against the
blue gray March sky, vibrantly close from our second-story window.
We raked the seeds of these hopeful giants in spring, their
gutter-clogging helicopter whirligigs
sneaking progeny among the innocent lettuce and spinach.
We bagged the leaves of all four heedless adults in fall, their
mess a side-effect of undeniable life, bagging and hauling the
flotsam and jetsam to our town compost heap.
Forty years ago, someone thought that planting
shade trees in the narrow strip between sidewalk and street
that would surely grow taller than the house was a good idea, and it was until it wasn't.
Derecho winds caught a rotting midsection of the southernmost in the group.
Down came a thousand pounds of timber, clawing roof and porch in its descent.
No job for raking and bagging, but for bucket crews dismembering three "liabilities" in an afternoon.
Now one lone tree carries the burden of seeding and leafing,
shading and shedding.
What must it make of the remaining oozing stumps of its life partners?
Perhaps they shouldn't have been planted there.
Probably they shouldn't have been planted there.
Ok, they shouldn't have been planted there.
They might not have been our property
But those were our trees.