Someone during our Heartwood Circle last Saturday morning remarked that the trees in the surrounding forest didn’t look so good. I’ve been noticing the same thing in our Bloomington neighborhood about one hour north of there. Just last week, on the day before I arrived home from Seattle, our next door neighbor had finally taken down the gigantic pin oak that had bordered our eco-pod, and that had shaded all three of the houses and yards around it. According to podmate Rebecca, the operation was done slowly, carefully, branch by branch, taking all day, with ten men and a giant crane, and gifted us with a large pile of wood chips.
Last spring I noticed that the leaf-out on that pin oak looked suspiciously “bunchy,” with wide spaces between leaf clusters. I had never noticed that before, and my instinct went on high alert. An expert confirmed my suspicions. The tree was dying. We have been grieving its impending loss ever since.
This year there were no leaves, its silvery branches remaining silent as a “bare ruined choir” (to echo Shakespeare’s haunting phrase). And now our beloved mother tree is gone.
Though fast growing, pin oaks can live over a hundred years. This neighborhood was established in the 1950s. The tree was probably planted then, along with all the fast-growing soft maples which are dying on schedule, after about 50 years.
So yes, that tree appears to have died early.
By the end of the century, the woodlands of the Southwest will likely be reduced to weeds and shrubs. And scientists worry that the rest of the planet may see similar effects.
The children of those who grow up now, if the human race does NOT go extinct, will live on a planet adapted to transformational conditions which we have yet to even imagine.
All who are alive now are witness to the great change.
Does not contemplation of this stark fact turn every glance, every sound, every sensation, every feeling, into mystery, yea, into ritual and ceremony?
Yes. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is sacred ground.” (Exodus 3:5)