Rotten at the roots and up to the heart, when the snowless nor’easter spun overhead for a day or more, a burst of wind split you down the middle. No one knew how bad off you were on the inside, but early storms can take down solitary trees who haven’t yet dropped their leaves. “Thankfully no one got hurt” and “that will cost at least 3 grand” was what they said, along with: “that could’ve hit the stained glass, or taken out the corner of the church, and then what?”
I don’t know how long ago you were planted. Maybe a hundred years? There was a small plaque affixed to a brick embedded in the ground, but last winter the sidewalk plow tore it up. So unfortunately you, and whoever planted you, or whoever you were meant to have us remember, will be deprived a proper memorial. Now your bones lay quietly on the ground you shaded just yesterday.
Left to your own devices you grew, despite any interventions or lack thereof–life does indeed find a way. And so does unseen rot. Many years ago your trunk diverged. A fork in your road. Not that anyone would have noticed, but that’s how the trouble began. All that water in the crux, softening your skin, penetrating your defenses, worming its way into your heart, inviting the fungus to have its way. Fast-forward more than a few decades, and you’re barely holding on, even as you dutifully photosynthesize, provide shade and shelter, and beautify the view outside my office window.
Here in the church yard, the parable is so easy its almost embarrassing. Planted long ago, large, impressive, beautiful, seemingly healthy, yet left alone in the hands of human wisdom and neglect. There’s a storm moving in which will test our strength like never before. I can feel it in my weakening bones that we’ll be split wide open, and the cleanup will be costly. I only hope against hope no one else gets hurt.