I know that many people are posting holiday poems because, heck, we are knee deep in the midst of the holiday whether we want it or not. But not me. I have to say goodbye to an old friend. When we decided to rent this house a few years ago we looked at the inside, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the coveted two bathrooms after way too many years of just one. But the Pepper tree in the front yard called to us more than almost anything on the inside. They speak of houses that have character but here it was the tree that had so many stories to tell. Stories I wished to learn.

A few months ago a big chunk of the tree cracked and fell, slowly and ever so carefully, across the front yard and into the neighbor’s. No one was hurt and no houses were damaged. Several inspections later and it was official: the tree was dying. It had barely held on to the branches that fell and more was likely to fall at any time. The tree was home to an enormous hive of bees (see this previous post http://susanwrites.livejournal.com/47675.html) and when it cracked, the bees were suddenly homeless. It took some convincing on my part to save the bees (rather than having them just killed) but after 3 trips, they were mostly all moved to a new hive. But this week, after a city hearing and permits and appeals, the tree was brought down before it could fall and cause damage. Wednesday the tree men worked all day to chop it up, pausing as they woke the opposums who ran off to hopefully find new homes. There was a ten foot hole straight down into the ground, wide enough for all to see how rotten it was, but still, watching that old tree come down was hard. Today they worked for hours to grind the stump. All that is left now is mound of sawdust waiting for something new.

I give you a quick poem on my thoughts.


There used to be a treee
standing guard
100 years more
in the midst of Silicon Valley orchards
before the Silicon Valley ever existed.
Bark of varying shades of gray and black and flecks of white
leaves drifting to the ground
all year
and shade
oh so welcome shade
come summer months
we sang its praise.

There used to be a tree
in a neighborhood of homes
to children playing hide and go seek
calling “Olly Olly Oxen Free”
racing to touch base
before being named “it”.
Roots raised the ground
to a hill of tangleness
where nothing grew
but ice plant
and the occasional wildflower that found the sun.

There used to be a tree
home to roof rats
(that we battled)
and squirrels
(that the dog chased)
and a family of opossums
(that often made us smile.)
House numbers were rarely needed
because the pizza man
and so many others
knew the tree
long before we called
this house home.

But sickness comes
to people and to trees
and slowly
from the inside out
the tree began to die.

One hundred and three years is more
than I can expect
to live
yet there used to be a tree
that lived that long

What stories it could tell
this tree
that used to be.