One of the reasons we chose our house was the wonderful row of mature pine trees in the back. Thirteen of them, actually, lined up along the back of the yard, green year-round and great for providing shade from the sun and blocking noise from the highway. I used to take a lawn chair out there and sit underneath them sometimes, resting my eyes and surveying my kingdom.

One day, people from the electric company came and chopped them all down. They said they were too close to the power lines, that it was dangerous and bad. I begged them not to do it, but they did it anyway.

For a long time I couldn't look out the windows on the back of the house because it just broke my heart and made me mad. The thing that angered me the most was the futility - how there was nothing I could do to bring back those trees. How it had taken fifty years for them to grow there, and a crew of assholes with chainsaws had ruined it in a couple of hours. And I could picture those trees so vividly; just blinking my eyes could momentarily fill in the space around the naked power lines, but just as quickly they'd fade back away, and I would relive the destruction all over again.

It's been years now since those trees were taken. Enough time has passed that it's the old pictures of the yard that look strange to me now, instead of the new. Still, the other day I looked out the window and shook my head one more time. "Damn. I loved those trees." I thought once again about how much I loved that wall of green, and the peace there underneath it. And remembered again that they're gone now, and there's nothing I can do to replace them.

I've probably felt that pain and thought that thought a thousand times. For some reason, though, this time I finally realized that it's wrong.

Those trees were planted in the '50s, by the uncle of the woman who lives behind us. He must have wanted a natural fence, or a camouflage for the telephone lines and post, or just an endless source of pine needles. For whatever reason, he dug thirteen holes and planted thirteen tiny trees, knowing that eventually, eventually, they would grow tall. Soon enough, they did.

I could plant new trees. I have a shovel, and hands to lift the dirt. I may not have fifty years to wait for them to grow, but those fifty years will come, eventually. And they will begin the journey, those fifty years, as soon as I realize that there is something I can do. It's not useless. I'm not helpless.

I cannot grow thirteen new pine trees. But I can plant them. I can begin.

My consolations to all the survivors of the hurricane, and best wishes for the eventual recovery.

No comments: