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Cutting down memories

<p>I have committed an eco-crime. Worse than using household cleanersso toxic they can neutralize a nuclear waste dump because, frankly,anyone who thinks all I need is soda water and elbow grease hasn’t seenmy bathroom. </p>

I have committed an eco-crime. Worse than using household cleaners so toxic they can neutralize a nuclear waste dump because, frankly, anyone who thinks all I need is soda water and elbow grease hasn’t seen my bathroom.

Worse than standing on my front step in February, pointing a spray can at the ozone layer — by that time of year I start to think of the GreenhouseEffect as God’s little gift to those of us who can’t afford a Caribbean cruise.

What I did was this — I am a tree killer.

In my front yard there is … was … an aged cherry tree. Weeks ago the City Works Dept. declared the tree dangerously frail.

Yesterday, workers arrived to cut it down.

“I’m not emotionally prepared,” I said.

City Workers: No problem. It’s going to take at least 10 minutes to get our equipment ready.

Me: I might need longer.

They eye me warily with that “we’re used to dealing with insane members of the public” look perfected by civic workers and retail clerks.

Workers: How long?

Me: Enough time to find some neighbours who will stand around sharing favourite tree-related stories, join in a ritual group tree-hug … then maybe have some barbecue. Is that too much to ask?

Workers: Not at all. So long as you can make it happen in the next 10 minutes.

I don’t blame these men. I loved the tree.

But, the things that really matter in life fall into two categories: very reasonable, rational things we care about ourselves, and totally inexplicable irrational things other people care about.

Neighbours now stalk past the house thinking, “Tree killer.” I know this because one of them said so.
Neighbour: You cut down your tree.

Me: The city did. It was really old. Over 80. When something’s decrepit, you have to get rid of it, right?
Neighbour’s mother: I’m 83. Tree killer.

I called my eco-champion friend, Rose.

Me: I’m going to write a book about how I’m not a tree killer. A sweeping saga. “Gone With The Chainsaw.”

Rose: Using huge wads of paper might not be the best way to prove you care about trees.

In spring, the city will plant a silver oak. I will feed and water it.

I will become known again, I hope, as a tree nurturer. In the meantime, there’s something I’ll miss far more than my eco-friendly reputation.

I’ll miss my cherry tree.

 
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