Ode to a Spruce Tree

©Kathy Mitchell, Vermont

©Kathy Mitchell, Vermont

Today I said farewell to an old tree in the yard. The old Blue Spruce had been failing for several years. It was now leaning on a power line. Growing at a dangerous angle, and its roots lifting the ground in an attempt to find purchase in the shallow soil on ledge…

we made the difficult decision to cut it down. 

I loved the privacy it gave, sheltering us from the road, and enjoyed monitoring baby birds in nests, visible from my window.  It was always full of birds. It had a heavy cone crop this year. Maybe in its struggle, chemical messages were coursing through its core-being to make a "last-ditch” effort to put out more seed to propagate.

I’m not sure of the age of this old tree, but estimate sixty to seventy years. It was an icon on the street and a marker for giving directions to my house:  “Look for the Big Blue Spruce tree in front of a house”.  

I have been bracing myself to be without it and practiced saying goodbye for weeks, holding my breath in wind storms, wondering when it would fall and hoping not on the house. Alas, the time came to cut it down, and we had someone come with a giant bucket and a chainsaw on a long pole.  Passers by stopped to witness. They started taking the lower branches and worked up to the top, which was about fifty feet.  It swayed back and forth with the cuts. Seeing the limbs fall into a heap was sad. Birds flew in a panic. I saw Bats too.  After decades of growth and withstanding heavy storms, in one half hour it was in pieces on the ground.  

I know this is “just a tree”, but it seems like part of an extended family.  A quiet member.

I will not miss walking barefoot under the tree. The needles it sheds are very sharp. And there is now a view to the east so morning sun fills the house, shouting out the loss. I will eventually plant something near the spot.  I will gather up the cones and place them where a baby Spruce seedling might take hold of the earth.  I will make some beautiful boards from the trunk, and I will remember.

It has been two days, now, since we cut it down. I have left the branches for a little while, to let things settle. Mostly inside me. When I go out into the night, I can smell the Spruce. It is out there right now, Spruce blood in the air.