• Kari

The Giving Tree

My favorite book growing up was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A great book, but an early sign that even as a child I had a love for the bittersweet. It taught things like go barefoot, focus more on what you need than what you want, and to just be in the moment. I was usually found outside in trees when I was younger. Just daydreaming, or reading a book. The silhouette of a tree against a twilight sky is one of my favorite sights. 

We had a beautiful willow oak tree in our backyard for the last 14 years we've lived in our home. It is one of the biggest trees I have ever seen, California Redwoods aside. It has cast shade over our backyard in the scorching summers. It looks majestic covered in snow in the winter. It was the backdrop for so many photos of my children growing up. I would pull up the driveway and stare at it and how it towered protectively over our house. This tree was probably one of my illogical reasons for loving this house so much.

Until about a month and a half ago, when this happened. That is not the tree. That is one of the smallest branches on the tree. It missed our neighbors house by a foot and damaged the entire

corner of our handmade fence. Our family felt the house shake when this branch fell to the ground after a rainstorm. We went running to find this. We didn't understand what was going on. The tree was healthy! It had bright green summer leaves all over it, with no damage in sight other than this limb that decided to jump ship. The rain immediately started again and my husband and oldest son spent the rest of the afternoon trying to clean up and at least get it off of the neighbor's property. The sound of the chainsaw rang out through the rest of the afternoon as they worked through the rain, dumbfounded by what just happened. Within the next few days we brought an Arborist out who confirmed our fear - the tree would have to come down. It was rotting from the inside, which is why we could not see any damage. But, we loved this tree! And, it would cost how much?? All of the memories we had in front of and under the tree danced around in my head. We had buried our sweet cat, Daisy, under the tree. Our sheltie, Jack, who had passed away just last December loved barking up the tree at whatever squirrel or bird was occupying it at that moment. 

After figuring out a way to come up with the cost of a family vacation to Disney we have been dreaming about, we instead paid a group of men to take down one of my very favorite things yesterday. My heart is heavy over a tree. (and also the small fortune it cost to have it taken down) Does anyone else understand me on this? But, the fact is that every storm we had in between when the limb fell and yesterday had my imagination going wild with what could happen if that giant beauty decided to fall over. Our house (and everyone in it) would have been flattened. The insurance companies said they would not pay for any damage since it was now a known issue. It had to go. 

So, we are choosing joy and making the best of it instead. Our backyard is large but with very little places that are level. Now that the tree is down, we have a place to put a fire-pit and a trampoline. Two things our family has wanted for a very long time, but could not have. After the tree was gone, we stared up at the sky for the first time from that spot in our backyard. So much light comes in, and as you look around there are several trees with no branches on one side because this tree took up all the living space. My heart is heavy for the loss of the tree, but I am now excited for the possibilities and the memories that our family will make where it used to sit. Talks around the fire-pit and camp outs on the trampoline. The sky is the limit. (And we can see it now too!)

Here's to our new view. On life, and our backyard.