It made no sense to those who saw me do it, but I threw my arms around the nearly naked branches of an English Oak tree and hugged it to me fiercely. Unashamed by the emotion that overcame me before we parted; I stroked its little branches lovingly and tenderly caressed the fuzzy underbelly of his glossy green leaves.
I knew I’d never see him again so this was my final goodbye. Whispering words of encouragement and hope, I told my friend that we, as a society, were counting on him. We needed the life-giving oxygen he would release and desperately depended on the pollution removal he would provide. I watched as a heavy-set man hobbled towards us, he grabbed the black plastic pot my friend called home and carelessly lumbered away without a single thought of my bereavement. I choked on emotion as I watched my friend frantically waving “so-long” from the back of a rusty Ford pickup. My heart sank as they rounded the curve in the old gravel road and disappeared out of sight.
Trying not to think of my pretty columnar friend, I busied myself in my work, giving away more free trees, but every so often that day, I’d see a tree that reminded me of him and a lump would form in my throat nearly choking me with grief. What was life for him going to be like now? I wondered. Would he be cared for, loved? I couldn’t bear the thought that he would be left unattended to, undernourished and alone. Alone to weather the winter unclothed by mulch or left in his temporary container too long freezing or drying out. I had to stop worrying! I had to trust that his new caretaker would indeed take care.
I knew that The Maker of Heaven and earth had created him for a reason and now I must trust Him to watch over my friend. My eyes scanned the horizon for direction for guidance for clarity, but all I saw was more and more of my tree friends disappearing. Their futures lay in the hands of the humans that drug them away from me. In turn, our futures lay in those same hands; planting, mulching, staking, watering and pruning. These are the duties of a tree owner and I feel it’s each of our duties to plant at least one tree in our lifetime. You don’t have to be a tree fanatic like me, but if you care about our environment, you’ll plant a tree.
In my mind’s eye, I can see that gorgeous English Oak providing shade, shelter and serenity and that, makes me smile.