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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Divergent Philosophies

A line of ancient maples separates two properties.  On one side, a stately home built in the mid 1800's is transformed into an Historic Inn, a Bed and Breakfast.  On the other stands a house of similar vintage, now under renovation, undergoing changes and modernization.

On one side, the maples have reached a height of five stories; on the other, two have been cut down, reduced to three-foot stumps.  That hasn't satisfied the owner's need for change, for tidiness.  Someone hacked at the stumps, burnt them, sought to eradicate them completely.  Yet the two stumps still stand, glisten in the rain, releasing a smell of charred wet wood.

Prickly rose hips, barberry bushes and snowberry shrubs surround the scarred remains.  These bushes hug and shelter the stumps, as the great maples once sheltered them.

On the Inn side of the maples, there are curving beds of fading Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers with deer roaming the yard and the orchards searching for autumn's rosy windfall apples.  On the renovation side, I see an electric fence, a tidy vegetable garden, manicured lawns and construction rubble.

As I walk, the rain thumps on my scalp and slides down my face.  I hear the buzzing happiness of hornets in the rotting apples, watch the deep-eyed deer, who in turn are watching me.  They are wary, yet continue to nibble at the apples or to rest.  Are they wondering from which side of the fence I have come, meandering into their orchard and yard?  Am I a chopper of maples, burner of stumps, caretaker of electric fences and tidy gardens?

I hope my answer is clear in my stillness, my respect, my awe at their quiet brown skin and delicate steps, apparent in my heartache over the destruction of old trees, my love of wet rose hips and bright red barberries.

A line of ancient maples separates two properties.  On one side is reverence for life in its wildness; on the other, there is a need to keep things out, to keep things in and to cut things down.  And in the middle, an electric fence with a sign "Do Not Touch-Warning High Voltage-Injury May Occur."  It seems to me, injury has already occurred...

Such divergent philosophies on each side of a shared property line of maples.


Crafty Green Poet said...

what a stark contrast in attitudes on either side of the fence, it's always sad to see people who don't respect nature at all

Carol Steel said...

I was moved to tears when I saw the stumps. People do have rights over their own propeties, but wanton destruction of trees that are older than I am seemed so heartbreaking.