Saturday, August 27, 2011

Torn by Contradictions

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” ~ John Muir

They were apple trees. I think. I drive to work every morning through this neighborhood. It’s a mixed bag of old and new houses, some well kept, some not so. Not a cookie cutter business, but sort of a compact but eclectic mix of this and that – all sizes, all sidings, all sorts of landscape, green and desert. In the middle of this small city world, there is a beautiful green and fresh orchard that stretches for a couple of blocks, behind a well kept split rail, white fence, where horses graze in the heat. A fresh, green spot in the middle of asphalt, giving your eye a break in today’s overgrown urban jungle. Or should I say … there was an orchard.

The orchard is sort of a big deal, perhaps, been there longer than the mix-and-match houses, because the neighborhood elementary school adjacent to it is called Orchard Elementary. Judging by the 70’s looking architecture of the school, it looks like it’s been there a while. This week, I drove past the orchard as usual, only to see all the trees cut down to the ground, and a big sign in front of the fence announcing custom homes coming up soon.

My heart sank! I keep trying to forget about it, to not think about it too long, but the poor, beautiful trees laying down and withering – dying - under the desert sun have been haunting me like a bad deed trying to scream out from cover! What a shame! In a place where it’s so hard to grow anything, because of long winters, too much rock and not enough rich soil, too much scorching sun and not a lick of shade, a whole entire orchard that somehow weathered it all is now gone. And for what?!

A page of Americana - with this old truck driving by the "Orchard Elementary" sign

My first impulse was: “Great! We have thousands of empty houses people (me, included) can’t sell in today’s market, all we need is more homes?!” I hated the person who came up with the idea and hated those who cut the trees down. But then my husband reminded me – maybe the farmer is just trying to get out of debt and the money he got from the developer will pay for all his troubles and allow him to live comfortably, or maybe he has a huge loan due to health trouble to pay off, and this will allow him to do that. Maybe his kids need to go to college? And everyone wants new homes nowadays – some families will be happy there.

I don’t know what to think. Sure, those are all good points. But the trees, somehow, to me, have to have a say in all this too. Years and years of fighting drought and wind. Years of trying to be fruitful, despite all adversities. The assiduous care of the farmer, who had to water them, fertilize the soil, prune, mow around them, weed, protect them from pests! All that – gone. In half of a day, all that work, and sweat, and green – gone. Then, the name "orchard" which established a neighborhood (the neighborhood grocery store shopping center is called "Orchards", too), a page of the history of the city, maybe - elbowed aside by "civilization".

Behind the pretty fence, the fruit trees cut down to the ground
(click on the picture for a larger view)

All good reasons for it set a side, I can’t help but feel a big, deep hole in my heart. There is something sad about trees being killed. A little spot of heaven on earth goes away. A huge disappointment in humanity. A feeling of emptiness and loss like that of missing a good ol’ friend only now, they’re gone forever.

“Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~ "Woodnotes"

1 comment:

TonyaB122 said...

This breaks my heart. Unfortunately, I've seen it myself with the farm I grew up loving... all that beautiful land covered in houses.