It’s that time of year, again. At the end of the driveway, the machine is parked. The man who drives it has had to move it twice. First for my daughter on her way to class, then for my husband on his way to work. Each time the bucket descends and the engine roars back to life. It’s now blocking the entrance and exit, again. Parked at the end of the driveway it has better access to the maple whose branches are threading the electric wires.
Who was there first? It doesn’t matter. We humans have taken over time and place to claim them both as our own. I have been reading a lot of nonfiction these days. Books about the land and our relationship to it. Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer took much longer than its short length would insinuate. It was not an easy read, just like Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass was not. The words both beautiful and heart-wrenching, reminding us that we are a part of this living land. Stewards, if we choose to be, but always Earth’s children.
I can see the workers outside the dining room window. They lay their tools on the snow bank. A red metal can holding gasoline lifts to fill the chainsaw. I can hear its whine getting ready to work. I recall Sue Vincent once remarking, “I like to think of it as a haircut” when trees and bushes are being trimmed. Her comment was filled with empathy, but also reason. When we take away the guilt and the sorrow, we can move into the space of gratitude and abundance. Limbs grow back, just as hair does.
Yet, we also know that plants, in their own way sense pain. They send out warning signals to their neighbors when they are in danger. Their energy spikes into a wavelength that indicates panic. We cannot truly know what a tree feels. We can only guess. We can take scientific readings of chemical reactions. Infuse our own emotions upon their bodies.
And, we can always move into the space of gratitude and love. Science has shown us what we already know, that all life responds to love. And so I find myself residing with intention while the maple outside my window is getting its branches trimmed. I am thinking of the tree, but also of those tasked to trim it. They are both worthy of my love and gratitude. Working, in their individual ways, to support life. I am grateful it is winter here. The live force within the maple less active than during the growing season. Hibernation, I hope, is a type of anesthetic to the cut. And, perhaps, so is my love.