A Quiet Ovation

stand_of_eastern_hemlock_and_white_pine_in_tiadaghton_state_forest_pennsylvania

~~~Eastern Hemlock and White Pine, Tiadaghton State Forest, Pennsylvania

No applause and no honors
Just the ignominious grinding
Of metal on wood
The thud of heavy bodies
Hitting the ground
Two old warriors
Honor intact
Upright as ever
Hospitable and welcoming
Home for the homeless
Food for the penniless
Grubs for the grubbers
Free and plentiful
Now deemed dangerous
Too unpredictable to ignore
Lest they do irreparable harm
Not of their own choice

This morning at 8am sharp the execution squad arrived. No ovations for them, be they ever so skillful. They came to take down two loyal friends who stood by me day and night for decades. Quietly and gracefully they shared their beauty, their shady branches and their contribution to the ecology of my life.

Their health, despite insect attacks, became their downfall. Too tall, too massive and too dangerous to stand between neighboring houses. And yet…home to squirrels, any number of small native and migrating birds combing their trunks for insects, and their branches for cone seeds. Eastern (Pennsylvania) Hemlocks.

I didn’t keep count of how often I woke up to a catbird, cardinal or wren perched on a limb just outside my bedroom window, singing a morning song. Or squirrels chasing each other up and down their trunks, chattering incessantly. Or the times I was up in the night during windstorms, watching their branches swaying to and fro, huge trunks tilting with the wind—dancing in it, unafraid.

I gave my towering friends a small ovation this morning—even though they were about to be taken down. I’m not a card-carrying tree hugger, but I have hugged trees in my lifetime. Large trees just like these. The kind that never get replaced in a lifetime.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 December 2016
Photo found at wickipedia.org
Response to WordPress Prompt: Ovation