The Fall of a Great Tree

Trees are one of the most fascinating living things, in my opinion. I think it’s the fact that they take so long to grow, and that they live to be so old that fascinates me most. I remember learning that paper came from trees when I was a child, and I was kind of shocked. It blew my mind that we, as humans, would cut down something as grand as a tree to make something as simple as a sheet of paper.

I’m not arguing about plant rights here, I’m just stating my feelings as a child, but I will say that even now my heart sinks a little bit whenever I see that a large tree has been cut down. Only a few years ago my childhood next door neighbors cut down their large tree. It was the largest in the neighborhood, probably three or four stories high. Truly majestic. I remember one time I ran away from home for a few hours and I set up a little camp underneath that low-hanging branches of that tree. That tree was a great tree, and the fall thereof was truly saddening, but it wasn’t my favorite tree.

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Honey Locust.

My family had the best tree in the world. I’m not really sure what type of tree it was, but by the account of my mom, and from what I’ve been able to research on the internet, I believe it was a Honey Locust tree. Basically, it was the perfect tree. My brother and sister and I enjoyed many a summer afternoon lounging under that tree. Ask my brother of the “slugs” story, he’ll tell you of the adventures we had. It was also the perfect climbing tree. The most perfect I’ve ever climbed. I must have climbed it a thousand times as a child (I under-exaggerate, it was many more than that). I wanted to live in the tree. I’d even planned to build a tree house in order to do so. I had a little hatchet that one time I whacked into one of the dead branches on the tree, and I declared, “That’s art!” I should have taken a picture.

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The Turtle Blimp. Is it hard to imagine a tree being this?

One of my sibling’s favorite games to play in that tree was ”Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. We’d pretend that the tree was the Turtle Blimp. The one from the cartoon that the Turtles would fly around in. Well, we pretended that the top of the tree was the air balloon, and there were a few branches in the lower portion, that served as seats and glider. We’d bring our toy weapons up there with us. Usually I played as Leonardo with twin katanas, he’s my favorite. Sometimes I had to play as Donatello, though. Donatello was the mechanic in the group and sometimes the blimp needed to be repaired, and I was the only one of us brave enough to climb to the top of the tree to do so.

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Branches are meant to be climbed.

The tree also served as a lookout tower for me. Sometimes I’d spend hours up there, looking around the neighborhood. I even had some cheep binoculars to use. I never really saw anything. There were the neighbors next door, but they were rarely outside, so there wasn’t much to see, and then I had two sets of backdoor neighbors, again, most of the time they were inside, so there wasn’t much to spy on. And my binoculars were far too weak to see through any windows. Still, I liked the idea of being on the lookout. I thought to myself that if my neighborhood came under attack, I’d climb up that tree with a rifle and defend my house.

As great as that tree was, we cut it down when I was in high school. We had gotten a pool, and the tree shed so many leaves that the pool looked like a swamp. My mom also told me that she feared the tree would fall on our house. That was her justification for cutting it down. I should have objected to cutting it down, but I didn’t. I just climbed it one last time for old time’s sake, and that was it. Truth be told part of me died with that tree. My youth died I suppose. I often reflect on that tree and wish I could climb it again as an adult. Maybe it wasn’t even as tall as I remember. Your perspective is so different when you’re an adult. Really it was barely taller than our house. Not even close to the three or four stories of our neighbor’s tree, but it was our tree. It was the tree I grew up in, and it’s gone and not coming back.

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