Saturday, June 14, 2008

Goodbye, Trees

We moved to a wooden house on two acres of land when I was 5 years old. Beautiful, tall trees stood like sentinals on the property, perfect for stringing a volleyball net, or just sitting in their shade on a hot day. Part of our property was grass, part of it woods, and another part wetlands. I used to take the video camera, my dog, and a blanket and lie on my back, watching the tops of the trees sway in the wind. I'd hug the trees, smell the trees, and lie on a hammock strung up between two of them. Sometimes I'd sit on our deck reading, looking out at the tall points of trees scraping the sky. I lived out in the country, among the woods and wild animals. It wasn't uncommon to hear a Great Horned Owl cooing in the night, crickets and frogs a cacophony among silent stars.

As I grew up, plots of land around us sold, making way for McMansions. A forest at the end of our formerly dead-end street turned into gigantic estates. Flowering fields with one red farmhouse and ancient oaks turned into developments called Iron Woods, or Bauer Woods, even though there was no longer a tree in sight. I'd mourn the loss of these open spaces over the years, marveling at greed and how it transforms the land.

My Mom and stepdad split up when I was 20 years old, and he became the master of the land. He remodeled the house, and I remember making him promise never to sell my beautiful trees to a developer. Please don't become like everyone else, I'd beg him. A year or so ago, he broke his promise, and raked in a cool 1 million for the property.

Today I learned that my trees are dying. A neighbor called my mother, saying he was sitting by his fire pit, watching with horror as gigantic yellow arms rip trees from the ground. Bulldozers crawl like aliens, massacring my ancient forest.

Soon a road will pave the way for more millionares to buy houses crammed together on tiny lots. The pavement will plow through the place where my hammock used to be, right through our old volleyball court, through the brush and 300 year old trees. Today they are dying, and I mourn their loss with silence. I'm sorry, I tell them, I'm sorry for greed.


Travis said...

beautifully written,but heartbreakingly sad.

It reminds me of the children's book, 'the lorax'

I'm so sorry for the loss of such a magical place

PeaceFromTrees said...

Thanks for honoring the trees. It means so much to them... I do a newsletter about all the earth's trees and I added your post to the next edition... You live in Washington right?

Curious... Maybe I've read your writings before? You can network with ne as well as see my tree activism at

Be well, Deane

Dan-Eric Slocum said...

There is a majesty to trees because they age and show their age so gracefully.

They are alive. They reproduce. They give us oxygen.

I grew up in a "tree-light" region of the U.S. Now I live in tree Heaven. I love them, yes in a tree-hugger kind of way. Yes.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know those trees, and often they gave me solace when times were tough - lying near them, looking into the tops of them - and warmed me with their beauty during the course of life - how lovely to have a view of trees, not buildings, how much trees offer us. The green and the trees are what brought me to Oregon from L.A., as a landscape stripped of greenery becomes soulless and concrete. Isn't it amazing how trees are living creatures, rooted to the ground, with absolutely no say in their destiny? They can go about the business of growing and enjoying life - and then one day, the bulldozers arrive and they are gone - so someone can turn some money. Yet there are those of us who know they are so much more, and even at a practical level, they are an integral part of the health of the planet. They are magnificant life and deserve respect. I can't even go back to look.

Kristin's Mom