Lament of a tree hugger

Posted 6/29/19

People call me a tree hugger. That doesn't bother me, because it's true. Some people mean it as a jibe. For me, it’s a complement. I love forests, hollows, fields, and streams. We have trees on our …

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Lament of a tree hugger

Posted

People call me a tree hugger. That doesn't bother me, because it's true.

Some people mean it as a jibe. For me, it’s a complement. I love forests, hollows, fields, and streams. We have trees on our property that look as if they've been here forever. Something happened to one of them back in March that made me sad. 

The date was Thursday, March 14, one week before the official start of spring. The day was warm and humid. By mid-afternoon, I could hear the sound of thunder in the distance, and smell the scent of rain on the wind.

I put Caillou the wonder collie in his safe place before he started ricocheting off the walls. Stepping out on the back deck, I stood for a long time. 

A light breeze plays melodic tunes on the wind chimes hanging on the back deck, but songs of impending storms are discordant. They are harbingers. 

I darted back inside when I heard lightning slam down somewhere off to the south.

Jilda was at work so I sent her a text to tell her storms would be heading her way and then I went through my storm plan. The first thing is to switch the AC unit off. I'm not sure if that keeps it from being damaged when lightning strikes the power grid or not, but I always do it. My dad did it, and it still seemed like the smart thing to do. I also power down my computers.

Taz, our little rescue Yorkie, hopped up on the couch and shivered in my lap during the thick of the storm. Then I saw a strobe through the windows of the garden door, and an instant later, thunder shook the windows. The lights blinked twice, and then the house was dark.

The following day on the ides of March, we had things planned, but our great nephew Jordan wasn't feeling well, so our plans changed. He spent the day with us.

After breakfast, he wanted to go for a walk. We shoe'd up and headed out. Down in front of our old house, I was taking a picture of lichen on a limb that had fallen to the ground. Jordan looked up into the ancient oak in front of the old house. 

He said, "Something scratched that limb on the oak." When I looked up, my heart sank. What he'd seen was unmistakable. During the storm the day before, lightning struck the oak. It looks as if one of the higher limbs was shaved with a hatchet. 

I wanted to believe that it would be OK. 

When the weather warmed the oak put on a full coat of leaves. I smiled when I saw the "scratched" limb had new leaves.  Seeing the fresh green leaves gave me hope.

Earlier this week as I was picking blueberries, the morning sun had just crested the trees in the hollow spotlighting my beloved oak tree. There was no mistaking the change in color of the oak. They were turning brown.

Jordan stayed with us today. After we fed his chickens, we stepped over and sat in the backyard swing. I directed his attention toward the oak. I heard him say, "Oh, no."

I guess people will call Jordan a tree hugger, too.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com.