My heart hurts.
I’m not even sure where to begin with this story
that involves an eccentric old juniper tree and a neighbor.
Short story: neighbor didn’t like eccentric juniper tree
that grew behind my fence in a Dr. Seuss-like fashion,
and over the years advocated for cutting it down because
the not-conventionally-attractive tree interfered with her view.
I defended the tree on the grounds it partially blocked my
view of the enormous new house down the hill but also
stated that I liked the tree because it had character.
Neighbor continued to advocate for removal and last year
I begrudgingly said she could cut off the very top five feet or
so of the droopy, swamp creature-esque tree. Neighbor
did nothing until one night this past week when we had another
conversation about the tree. I repeated that I liked the tree because it had
character and because it blocked the house below, but that she could top it off.
I’m sure you’ve guessed what happened.
On Saturday afternoon, while I was home and completely unaware,
my neighbor came into my yard, went behind the fence and butchered the tree
so that it now just reaches above the fence.
As soon as I walk onto my patio and face downhill, I see the scarred remains jutting over
the fence. Behind it I see the enormous house down below. Then I close my eyes
and see the off-center, funky old juniper that used to provide habitat for birds and squirrels.
I’m crying as I write this.
I feel as if I let down that tree, that I should not have made any assumptions
about how it would be treated by my neighbor.
I wish I could rewind the tape and handle the whole situation differently.
Yesterday while I was writing a letter to my neighbor about the hurt and anger I felt,
Zippy discovered a card from her in our front door.
Neighbor’s card said a tree was being planted in a National Forest in my honor
and also that she’d plant another tree behind the fence if I wished.
She apologized and said she’d never do that again.
My anger is mostly gone but I cannot shake the sadness.
I’m not sure how to move forward.
It feels disrespectful to leave the tree as is but I don’t know if I can cut it down.
Yesterday morning when I stood next to it, crying, a bird flew from the lower branches.
This whole situation has affected my health and I can’t see how it’s ever going to get easier.
Whenever I face that direction I’ll either see where the tree used to be or its mangled remains.
Neither feels like a good choice.