Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Through the Eyes of a Child

We pulled a tree out of the front yard last Sunday. It was a little tree - a cypress that we'd moved from one place to another when we bought the house, and which was getting too big in the new place, too. A kind of normal gardening chore during spring clean-up. We were already researching what kind of bush we might replace it with.

Well, just as I was pulling the tree out of the ground, our other car drove up, including the ten-year-old, who caught me in the act. She wailed. I immediately became a murderer. Silly me, I suggested that it was like weeding, which we all do all the time. Little did I know that a tree is, on no case, a weed (I recall weeding my farm of alders to keep pasture and to leave room for young cedars when I lived a more rural life).

Anyway, I was in trouble for the rest of the evening. Not only did I pull the tree out but I also lopped it into pieces small enough to put into the recycle bin and I didn't do any kind of ceremony to lament its passing.

But it made me remember one night in California, where I grew up, when I sat up by a favorite stand of eucalyptus trees and watched the cars go by on the interstate below. This was when the orange groves were being yielded to housing tracts at the rate of a few acres a day and drives down familiar roads lined with unfamiliar sights happened regularly. I was sitting under the eucalyptus, breathing in their sandy scent, crying for the orange groves.

Maybe we should all feel the Earth the way kids do. I know I haven't cried for trees in a long time. Maybe it's time I tried that again. After all, when I print a ream of pretty, glossy, unrecycled paper, I'm using the life of a tree.

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