Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In Memoriam Little Red Tree

I was jolted awake (or perhaps more awake, as I had trouble sleeping) by the sound of a chainsaw right near my dwelling. I looked out to see a workman demolishing the little red tree next to the swimming pool utility building, a tree I had lived with for more than twenty years. This small landscaping tree, probably some sort of Japanese maple, had bright red leaves and hosted many birds and some nests as well. I had observed it for all those years, watching it slowly grow larger over that time. Now it was being dismantled, branch by branch, until nothing was left but the trunk, and then that too was cut away by the relentless chainsaw until the stump was level with the ground.

Why were they destroying my tree, which I considered, in a pseudo-Druidical way, a long-term friend of mine? They were cutting it down because it had grown too large and was overshadowing the building. The water and plant material from the tree, over the years, had accumulated on the roof which was rotting out. And the owners wanted to renovate the roof of the dreary pool house structure. I admit I knew the tree was doomed when I saw the damage to the roof, which had been aggravated by a recent storm. But I didn't want to witness its death.

Within a few hours a team of Spanish-speaking roofers had pulled apart the rotted old roof and replaced it with fresh wood and asphalt shingles. The results of their labors now stands unshadowed and new, ready for the summer season. As always, I watch out my window for more landscaping to be installed.

This drawing of the Little Red Tree was done in my 1998 illustrated sketchbook journal. That was 16 years ago. At the time of its demise the tree was much larger than this and obscured the whole building behind it. Markers, ink, and colored pencil, April 21,1998.

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