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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

April 13th, 2011

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10:24 am - Two Trees on My Mind
Recently, I have had to make very difficult, very personal decisions regarding two trees that I have a very close connection to.

The first is an American Sweetgum tree, which resides just outside my window at work. I'm blessed with a very nice view of OSU's campus in my current office, though you wouldn't know it from a description of what I can see: the university power plant, the tower to that plant, Ohio Statdium, and the Woody Hayes bridge over the Olentangy River. But in between my window and these things is the very top of this sweetgum tree, which is constantly in my view as I sit in my office.

I have been asked to move my office to another one, down the hall, that is the same size and has a similar window. The issue is that the window I will look out every day will no longer have this tree outside it: instead, there will be nothing between my window and the blank, boring brick wall of the power plant. This makes me feel like part of me is being cut off, even more than a normal office job would do, from the cycles of nature.

To explain this, you have to have watched a tree over the course of three years, as I have with this one. Daily, I see it change with the seasons, watching the buds appear in the spring, watching the leaves change in fall. If you are not watching a single tree over time, you may notice these changes, but you won't truly experience the surprise and joy of the first buds powering through the frost, or the last lonely leaf hanging on in the cold wind of winter. And these are just changes in the tree itself: I have also watched squirrels build nests in the tree, seen hawks hunt from it, and watched strange birds pause in it during their migrations. I have learned so much of how the world changes simply from watching this tree that I cannot begin to describe it. But it is, in the end, only a view of a tree, and while my office may move, the lessons from the tree will never leave me.

The second is far more difficult. It is a Curly Willow in my backyard at home. This is an amazingly beautiful tree, with corkscrew leaves and branches that twist and turn, reaching for the heavens. The primary issue is that it grows directly into the powerlines and transformer behind the house, meaning that American Electric Power is "out to get it," and it will have to come down. What makes this harder than the average tree is three-fold:
  1. First, there is a strong religious connection I have to the tree, which drives the other two reasons. With a divine patron who is shown working and pruning a willow tree to encourage its growth, I find my religous sensibilities are horrified at the prospect of cutting the tree down and destroying it entirely.
  2. Second, the tree (because of its association with my patron, Esus) was a primary driver in the purchase of the house, and it is probably my favourite thing about the property I own. Without it, I wonder what I will feel about the house.
  3. Finally, the tree was heavily used in the decorations for our wedding, and it has a lot of meaning for the love my wife and I share.

A lot of this is tempered by the fact that AEP wants to cut the tree down and get rid of it for good reason (it causes a couple power outages each year for both us and our neighbors), and also by the fact that a curly willow only lives for 10-15 years on average, and I've owned the house for seven years. It has, I am afraid, become time to let the tree rest.

So, I agree to move my office down the hall and leave the sweetgum behind. I agree to allow the curly willow to be butchered at the hands of the power company. I agree to all these things, but I also pause and sigh: there is love for these trees that I can hardly express in words. I pray for them, and for myself, and hope that the love I have had for them is known to them in some way.

But I have also taken cuttings of the willow to try and force them to root, so I may replant it. I will still be able to catch a glimpse of this tree from my office window if I press against the glass. Even physically, the trees are not lost to me, though I may be forced to move on: I can, indeed, take them with me. I find myself specifically praying that my hands will be guided to nurture these sprigs of curly willow into trees in their own right.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes", -JB

(9 comments Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:April 13th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
I think we'll be okay, getting them to root. This particular tree actually roots pretty fast, we noticed, when cuttings are involved.
[User Picture]
Date:April 13th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Change is not so bad when you approach it with dignity. If the willow has to come down, do it yourself as you would humanely take the life of a steer you'd been raising for food. And plant something else in its place. Is there any possibility you could plant another tree in front of the window in the new office or otherwise amend the environment to make it slightly more friendly? If nothing else, how about window decals?

Meanwhile, someone sent me this link today; pass it on. :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 13th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, the willow is in the power lines, so it's not only dangerous, but potentially a legal issue if I manage to knock out someone's power in the process. I wish I could do it myself.

I intend to replant in its place, hopefully with something not quite so tall.
Date:April 13th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)

Often willows can be regrown from a green branch stuck in water. You could save some and try it, so that it can be regrown (and with you guys still in the first year of your marriage, the symbolism is beautiful :)
Date:April 13th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
whoops, which I see you already know :( That's what I get for being in a hurry with my little words o' wisdom. :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 13th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
Just because something is right doesn't make it painless. Even a logical and just decision may need to be grieved.

Moving away from an old friend is hard, but don't forget you can always go back and visit.
[User Picture]
Date:April 14th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're taking cuttings of the curly willow. I was going to suggest that, too. Good luck!
[User Picture]
Date:April 14th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
When I was two, my parents bought their first house, and planted two willow trees in the backyard... one for me, and one for my at that time, unborn brother. Well, both trees grew, but my tree, due to location, or whatever, really flourished, and I spent many a day over the years, cradled in the branches of that tree. I discovered at a young age how much I could love a tree. I also discovered that willows DO re-root really easily! So, good news for you. :)

Several years later, when my parents got a pool in the backyard, they had to cut the willow trees down because willow trees especially do a number on pool filters. I felt like a part of me had been cut away, and after that, that place where I had lived for 20 years never felt like home again.

I am sending prayers for the successful transplant of cuttings, and maybe you could put a plant or a bonsai tree in the window of your new office. It's not quite the same, but looking at a living thing has to be better than a brick wall of the power plant.

Edited at 2011-04-14 08:01 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 27th, 2011 12:19 pm (UTC)
One of the things you might want to consider is planting from seeds. Hear me out. Put three pots, because we are druids and like our threes, in your window at work. Then plant a different tree seed in each pot. Nurture them and help them to become strong little seedlings. In about 2-3 years then take them and plant them somewhere, perhaps for an earth day offering of some sort. You then become an integral part not only in those three seedlings but then become connected to the land that you offer up the labor and time to transplant those little beauties to. The love, dedication and energy that you give them daily is an excellent way to connect to the landwights and by repeating this process you are always in tune with those forces of nature. A very druidy thing to do.

Who knows, get enough of them going you could build the foundation for an actual grove of trees!

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