I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Shocked, actually, and then heartbroken. The two magnificent redwoods in the area just outside our condo’s kitchen window were slated to be removed.
Thirty-five years or so ago someone thought planting little redwoods throughout the grounds was a lovely idea, even calling our association of dwellings a park. Indeed, when we moved in twelve years ago we were delighted by these trees. In no time at all my husband created a magical space beneath them, complete with ferns, azaleas, a sliding swing bench and other delights even though we wondered at the time why they had been planted so close to our home –the largest of the two being a mere 5 feet away.
Knowing little about redwoods, I assumed it would be okay. Maybe their roots went deep since they are known to live hundreds of years –and consequently were no threat to our foundation.
I have since learned that the roots of redwoods only go down 10 to13 feet and that they have numerous lateral roots. Indeed, in the past couple of years we noticed that the stepping stones winding around to the back of our largest tree were no longer flat to the ground, lifted by an ominous root aimed directly at the house.
So they had to go. The day they were stripped of their branches the sky cried with me. My emotions made a mix of sadness and anger. How careless to plant such beauties destined to be destroyed by reason of poor planning! The “instant gratification” syndrome we experience as a nation, which we all succumb to at times, is why these noble trees and several others in our “park” were felled.
I came home for lunch the next day to see what had become of our trees and found their severed bodies in our cul-de-sac.
No longer majestic trees, they had been cut in thirds and reduced to logs, their wonderful energy dispersed. Having put my arms around them as I have other trees over time, I had felt their dynamic vitality, their sacred life-returning presence on earth. Touching them for the last time I told them I was sorry we humans too often act with imprudence.
Throughout my life I have found that an unexpected gift often follows loss. The gift following the loss of my beloved redwoods is light. Light streams into our upstairs bedroom window in the morning now, and our kitchen is a brighter place.
Even a neighbor stopped me to thank us for giving them a new home. “Our front room is full of light!” she exclaimed. “We had no idea our skylight had been so shadowed by your redwoods!”
It’s Memorial Day. A number of redwoods in the association remain as they were planted far enough away from the condos. They stand tall, their green branches waving as if in salute to those who have fallen.