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the hemlock

One morning last week, after some fierce winds blew in the night, we woke to find the kale in our garden peppered with fistfuls of pine needles from the boughs overhead, and a forty foot hemlock snapped from its trunk and laid out horizontal on top of our car and deck. To mitigate the pine needles, we rinse them off the kale in a colander in the sink. The hemlock required more expertise. A wood chipper and chainsaw, some arborists and insurance adjusters, and the hemlock is gone, but for the splintered stump and a considerable amount of sweeping I have yet to do.

I’m going to miss the hemlock. It was one of the two trees I could glimpse through the hopper window above my desk in the basement where I write. It was one of the first trees I saw every morning when I stepped through the threshold from home to world and looked over my left shoulder to the east. Now I see more sky. There is a sadness to the space held open by arboreal absence. But there is also some assurance in the knowledge that this is the way of things.

Winds blow. Trees sway and sometimes give way. We lift our gaze. With feet on the ground we look around. And if we welcome the dynamic nature of our world — if we welcome the logic of decay — then we just might find the courage to contribute to the promise of renewal.

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