Death of a Little Grove

"Arashiyama near Kyoto"photo courtesy of katclay (Flickr Creative Commons)

I took a day off from work today and for a while was in a great mood.

I wrote nearly 2500 words in my WIP, a near-record for me, then took a walk to the post office and drugstore.

It is a beautiful day, a bit on the cool side, but after the record-breaking heat of March that’s fine with me. The cherry trees are all in bloom, the tulips are up, everything is leafing out. Ah, the joy of spring.

Going back from the drugstore, I took a different route home. On my way I passed a house that had seen some changes over the last few months, changes that didn’t bode well.

Last year at this time, the house, a charming little stone cottage, was surrounded by trees. It always made me think of a house in a fairy tale, snugly tucked in its own little miniature forest. The edge of the yard that borders the sidewalk and road was planted with a little row of fir trees, and a new one or two seemed to be added each year. Beyond them, the yard was chock full of other green, leafy companions. I always smiled when I passed it; it was like a little Christmas-tree farm, and I knew a kindred spirit lived there.

A few months ago, we noticed that the lamppost had fallen down. The next time we passed, it was still there, untended. My husband and I wondered about the person who lived there: had they died, been taken ill? I thought of my parents in their last years after my father’s sudden illness. Neither my sister nor I lived in the same town and our visits were too full of care-taking to have much energy left to think about yard work. Something similar had happened here.

All through the winter the lamp post remained like that.

Then today as I passed, I saw the house laid bare. Naked, denuded, alone.

Nearly all the trees surrounding it had been cut down, including two humongous trunks that looked like they had been venerable sycamores. Stacks of wood were piled in the dirt-bare yard. A few straggling little firs were left at the border of the yard, a pitiful remnant but they may be gone, too, the next time. If trees can feel, what must they have felt to have seen the butchering of their elder brethren?

I felt like crying. The wanton destruction cast a pall on the beautiful day.

And I felt rage. I wished for an army of Ents to come down and beat up those responsible.

For laying waste such beauty.

For such blatant disregard for another form of life that gives so much to humanity.

All I can do is bear witness to their destruction.

I wonder if the owner is dead. Or in the sterile confines of a nursing home. My heart goes out to that kindred spirit who loved trees as I do.


  1. pegbrantley said,

    April 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Oh, Nancy. I can’t imagine. I walk in a city park near our home. The other day, I saw a tree that had been cut down and dragged away to die. The fresh new leaves and tiny white blossoms lay whithered and lifeless, all pointing toward the ground. I have no idea why that tree was cut down but I intend to find out. Unless it was diseased (and it didn’t look to me like it was) the destruction of a beautiful life form was senseless.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      Oh, Peg. Seeing one chopped down while it still has its little blossoms seems especially heartless. Especially when it’s in a city park, where trees ought to be safe! Every time I see a tree cut down, I go through the same cycle of rage and grief. You’re right: it is senseless.

      Thanks for the words of fellow feeling and sympathy.

      • pegbrantley said,

        April 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

        This morning on my walk I asked one of the park guys if they had chopped down the tree. He said no, the wind last Friday (it was terrible) had blown it down. It was pretty rotted at the base. It’s still sad, but not as terrible as it could be.

  2. April 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Nancy, what a sad event. I wonder, too, about the owner, and if the fallen lampost was a sign that s/he could no longer do the simplest home maintenance. But to cut down the trees!?! This makes no sense, does it?

  3. Nancy Adams said,

    April 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Ramona, I’m thinking that the owner has either died or had to sell the house and that the real estate agent or executor decided on the cutting. I know when we sold our parents’ house, the new owners wanted some trees right next to the gutter cut down, but to decimate the entire yard?

    Yes, it is senseless. And sad.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Gloria Alden said,

    April 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I would have felt terrible about that, too. I love trees and almost all plants. I hated having an old weeping willow tree next to my house cut down when it started dying and was leaning over my house. After it was gone, I bought another one and planted it further away. It is now quite a big tree. They’re a messy tree, but I’d rather clean up the dead branches than get rid of it. Fortunately, I have a lot of trees around my home. It keeps my house cool in the summer and protects it from winter storms.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      April 13, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Weeping willows are gorgeous! And you’re absolutely right about the practical benefits. Ever since a neighbor on our west cut down a couple of trees, the upper story of our house bakes in summer heat. I’m hoping we can put in a weeping cherry that will give that side more shade.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Gayle Feyrer said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    In Berkeley, we had Tree-Sitters for a year, doing their best to save the oak grove that the University wanted to build new athletic facilities on (earthquake fault right underneath, of course). After a year, they pretty much dragged them out of the trees and hacked them down. Then they never came up with enough donation money to do their stupid project. The grove was planted as a WWI memorial.

    • Nancy Adams said,

      April 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Oh how awful! So many good reasons to keep that grove and no good reason to destroy it. You’ve just got to shake your head. I guess the University figures athletic facilities are always popular and that most of the WWI vets are no longer around. How crass can you get?

      If I were 20 years younger, I’d be a Tree-Sitter, too. More power to them!

      Thanks for stopping by..

  6. Cindy Smith said,

    April 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I have a similar feeling when I pass by my old house. It was a lovely old Victorian. I rented it for nine years, and the landlord allowed me to plant gardens and put a swing on the front porch, which was separated from the road by a deep lawn and sheltered by trees and shrubs. The owner has since sold it to a company that went in next door and wanted the extra property. My house was one of the few that were grandfathered in due to someone being in residence continually for the last 100 years. Now no one lives there. The gardens are gone, the windows are boarded up, and the house seems to have closed in on itself, as though trying to hide from the world that is destroying it. The city has cut 15 feet into the lawn to widen the road out front. Whenever I pass by there, my heart aches. I miss my wonderful orange trees and the magnolias that looked like ballerinas dancing on the lawn when they dropped. I miss my house.

    Best wishes,

  7. Nancy Adams said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Oh, Cindy! My heart goes out to you. I don’t understand why so many people don’t value this kind of beauty. It sounds like it was such a special place.

    I love your image of magnolias dancing on the lawn like ballerinas! That’s lovely.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story.

  8. January 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    […] time that I read about some horrible environmental degradation or see a beautiful, healthy tree wantonly chopped down in a neighborhood yard, I have a fierce longing to evoke the vengeance of the Ents upon the offender, wishing that I could […]

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