Around the corner from my house, a tree fell during Hurricane Irene, blocking the entire roadway. By fortune, the tree did not land on a car or a house or power lines. Had the wind shifted, had the break happened a little bit lower on the trunk, who knows what damage that tree could have caused.
Still, there is something sad about the loss of a tree. As I looked at the site, I was taken by not only the enormity of the tree, but also by its age. They say that by examining the rings of a tree, you can see the tree’s life, when it was a wet year or a dry year. But the rings certainly can’t tell you what that tree came to mean to so many people; rings cannot tell you what any tree means to any person.
Staring at the tree, I thought about the trees in my own life. There was the fir tree in the backyard, under which I would play with Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks, building roads so that a large root became an overpass. There was the maple tree in the front yard, which would ignite with fiery leaves each autumn. We would then rake the leaves into a huge pile and run and jump into the pile, or even have a leaf war with friends across the street. My friend Thomas had a tree that was perfect for climbing, giving young minds a wh0le new view of life in suburbia. My friend Bobby had a tree house, a simple platform high off the ground, a refuge from summer play and heat.