The Beech Tree

Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Loader on Unsplash

Earlier this spring, we discovered that our beautiful red maple tree had finally gotten so large that its roots were encroaching on the foundation of the house. In fact, those determined roots had begun to push their way into any cracks or crevices they found, pushing aside mortar and widening cracks in the cement blocks.

Just thinking about cutting down that tree grieved my spirit.

Last summer, I spent many a summer afternoon laying on the deck furniture and watching the sky through the lacy red curtains of leaves. I wrote poetry there, I sang songs, and told stories. Cutting down the tree felt like cutting down a piece of our family history.

But when the foundation expert came and confirmed that if we didn’t cut down the tree, we would suffer irreparable damage to our home’s foundation that would cost thousands to repair, I knew it was time.

We have done all the preparation now–taking up the back deck, removing all the landscaping rocks, resituating other plants and flowers. The backyard seems so barren. My solace has been looking up potential replacement trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

In my research, I discovered some lovely facts about beech trees. I wish I had the space to plant one in our garden, but I’m afraid I would end up in the same predicament I am in now as beech trees grow in groves and 60-80 feet tall.

After watching this video of a beech tree unfolding, this poem was born.

Life begins with planting.

The Beech Tree

The process begins
with planting,
always with planting,
then tending
and harvesting—
nothing neglected,
everything perfected
in its time.

The work is slow and tedious;
the work requires patience—

like the building
of a leaf
first with vernation—
leaves folded
packed tightly
intricately engineered
inside a tiny bud.

Then at the first hint
of summery sun,
the magical unfurling
of beech leaves
baptizing the garden
in spring green.

Finally plucking
the tender leaves—
sweet-sour taste
hitting the tongue—
a portent of spring.

The beech tree announces
the end of Blackberry winter
and it all began
with planting a seed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

What are your favorite landscaping greens (or reds or yellows or golds)?

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