Out on the boulevard sits a lovely red-leaf maple. Age and stress have taken their toll on her but she still stands sentry over my home, an umbrella of shade during the summer, in winter a gnarled sculpture to ward off the barren landscape of snow.
Even in the throes of death, she selflessly gives of herself to those around her. The maple is a busy place no matter what the season, no matter what her condition as she gives back what she has taken for all these fifty years. She is part of a chain of events, even as she gracefully deteriorates, that creates a mini ecosystem within a larger one by returning part of herself into the soil as the roots become less viable and slowly return to soil itself. Then the insects move in and
birds come to comb between the layers of loosening bark and cracked wood for larvae and other tempting foodstuffs.
Because parts of her are now hollow a woodpecker knocking around for insects discovers she makes a great drum to enhance his manly woodpecker aspects and uses her to find a mate. When he does, they set up house in the natural apartment provided by the tree and when the nestlings have flown, a squirrel does yet a bit more excavating to the hole so to accommodate an expected litter.
A limb creaks here, lets go there and soon she is the shadow of her former glory. Still providing shelter and life but in a way different from before. This turn of the inevitable clock makes her not less desirable, but more so in many ways to many more.
On a bright fall afternoon as I walked home for the day I noticed the maple had a white ‘X’ painted across her trunk and a note tucked in my doorjamb concerning the disposal of the lovely tree. She was unsteady, it read, and prone to falling. She served no viable purpose any longer, so she must go. She would be replaced with a much younger version of herself.
I asked for leniency but received none.
Somewhere in the years that follow age and grace, beauty and what once was is dethroned and forgotten by what is deemed as no current viable purpose.
That is a shameful legacy to leave for such a once and still grand lady.