Tree of Life

My tree standing tall next to my tiny house.

There is-scratch that- was- a huge, old cottonwood tree in my backyard.  It was well over 50 feet high and had shaded my little green house for at least as many years.  It was a victim of last year’s drought.  I saw it starting to fail last summer.  My farrier, Roland, self-proclaimed tree lover (or maybe he was kidding when he said this-I can never tell with Roland) had warned me that the tree was dying.  I started watering it slowly through the nights of last summer’s endless drought. 

I anxiously awaited spring to see if the leaves would return.  Some of them did but not enough, not nearly enough.  I hoped to wait it out and continue to water it.  I hoped that more of the tree could be nurtured back to life.

Then last week’s storm came.  I did not want to repeat the fear of being in the house praying the tree would not topple on us.  Nor did I want to look out to see a huge limb lying on my power lines. 

Lauren laying on the roof trying to repair the damage from the last storm.

Or find out in the next downpour that there are holes in my roof and have Lauren re-enact the Wicked Witch of West pose while laying on the roof.

I am not going to miss these things about my tree.  But as the only tree in my backyard, it has provided shade for my dogs from the brutal Texas heat.  It held the swing that Jordyn first sat in as a baby wanting to go faster and higher even as a toddler.

Retrospectively, that’s actually when I should I have first questioned the integrity of the tree.  Lauren and I bought the baby swing-you know the one-it is blue, molded plastic and you can see it in eight out of ten yards in any neighborhood?  We got some rope and decided to hang it from a big branch of our backyard tree.  The branch was at least a foot wide and 20 or so feet long.  It looked like a great branch to use for Jo’s new swing.

We spent awhile throwing the ropes up over the branch, securing knots to the swing and preparing for Jordyn’s new toy.  We were really proud of ourselves.  We were new to the country and this was one of our first projects.  We were so excited to let the baby ride in the new swing.  Lauren decided to test it out.  She gently sat in the tiny seat and started swinging slowly back and forth. 

Then with a huge crack the giant limb broke off the tree.  Lauren and swing crashed to the earth.  The limb followed immediately behind and smacked Lauren in the head.  I think she was a little dazed.  Maybe confused.  Still I was glad she had tried it out instead of baby Jordyn.  I told her she should have had her riding helmet on.  Somehow she didn’t think to wear it while swinging in the backyard. 

So, we set out to rehang the swing from a different branch.  we checked this time to see there were bright green leaves on this branch.  It took us another hour to get the ropes up over the high branch and secured.

This time (can’t fool us twice) we got Lula, the dachshund, and put her in the swing.  When this was successful, we moved up to Corgi.  I would just like to point out, Sneaky was way less cooperative in this endeavor than Lula.  Sneaky weighed about 22 pounds then and so did Jordyn so we thought it was good experiment.  We never managed to get the either Doberman to sit in the swing.  Lauren also refused to get back in the swing.  But this time we must have picked well because all the grandkids have spent time in Granny’s swing under the shade of the old Cottonwood tree.

Today, in five hours, 50 years of growth and 50 feet of tree was destroyed. The swing will be thrown away.  No where to hang it now.  The tree is in the landfill and my checkbook is much lighter.  Perhaps the stump that is left will be a new stage for the kids to act on or a table for tea parties.  I will miss my tree.

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