Saturday, May 9, 2015

In loving memory of a maple

When it was over, I looked up to discover my wife consoling our sobbing five year old daughter. Our 12 year old's face was buried in her knees to hide her tears as best she could. The other two kids weren't crying, but the look on their faces said it all: "Did that just happen?"

Yes it did. I cut down the maple tree in our backyard.

Now before you get all Joni Mitchell on me and accuse me of paving paradise, there are reasons for the tree's demise. The people who lived on our house before us seemed to plan the yard based on how big trees and shrubs were when they were planted, oblivious to what things will look like when they grow and mature. I have had to take out shrubs that were planted too close together or too close to the house before and replace them with plants more appropriate for the area.

This small-to-medium-sized tree was already growing into a larger tree, and a couple years of pruning and hoping didn't change that fact. My wife and I had been discussing the tree's removal for a couple years, and we agreed that if was going to happen, it should happen before it got too big and we got too attached to it. Guess we were a little late for the latter.

I joined the rest of the family on the deck trying to console the kids and explain that it simply had to happen. It was not use.

"Where will we put the ladybugs?" This tree was their ladybug refugee camp when they "rescue" the tiny beetles.

"What about the birds? Where will they live?" referring to the waxwings that made their home in the tree last year.

The protests and outcries continued.

"I love maple trees."

"That was my favourite tree."

Our 12 year old even sent me a text after she went inside, "Y did you u do it? Y Y Y?!" Just in case I didn't get it, she sent a second message with a maple leaf emoji.

When she returned outside, she mumbled, "At least you didn't cut down the climbing tree," before she scrambled up the tree like she was going to sit in it to protect it from another one of my barbarous acts. Part of me expected to see chains and a lock.

I have to be honest, I did not expect any of these reactions. But it didn't take long to realize that this tree, or rather the experiences this tree represented, are ingrained into the fabric of our family. It was, and always be be part of our family's story. All chapters of stories come to and end—some with laughter, some with tears. All create bonds that bring our family together and give us the shared experiences that is family, that is life.

Farewell little maple tree. Thank you for the memories you have brought our family.

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