A Tree Falls
By Jo Manning
My spruce tree has gone, felled in its prime. No one asked if I wanted to keep the tree, or told me it was going to go. In silent shock, I watched helplessly as a young man, safely harnessed, climbed up my tree, lopping its branches as he went up, limb by limb. At the top he started down, removing the trunk piece by piece until he was down. A team on the ground, wearing orange hard hats, watched their heads and dealt with the branches and piled the logs. It was so neatly done, so quick, so quietly cruel, the once invincible trunk now in logs, trimmed level with the ground, gone.
This spruce had dominated my room, keeping me safe, protecting me from storms or too much sunshine. It was huge, towering over the building, mothering countless birds as they came to feast on its abundant cones. Finches, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Sparrows, Bushtits, and more, all competed for the seeds.
Much of the northern world was covered in forest until we came. It was we who saw it as timber to grow rich on, and gradually the logs came down, whole hillsides were bared to the sun, drying the soil so it blew away. We planted more trees, and there were more harvests, but the undergrowth of ferns and mosses and lichens to nurture them was gone.
Slowly our climate changed. Summers were dryer and there was more wind. In the dry heat fires erupted, sweeping over the new forests, killing everything in the way, even us. We watched helplessly as they were felled, prey to greed, knowing what was happening to our planet, once so green and beautiful.
My solitary spruce was so unimportant in the great scheme, its beauty and cool shelter unimportant compared to a forest, with many trees. Only one tree, but I mourn.
We see the apocalypse in fallen trees, as they go, one by one. Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian poet, said this:
“If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?”