What Comes Next


After the City cut down our very old and very beautiful Norway Maple, the arborist brought us a list of trees from which to choose a replacement.  There were a dozen trees on the list. “Look them up on the internet,” she told us. “See what you like.”

Our tree had become notorious at the Department of Public Works. We hadn’t complained so much as we’d just kept asking questions. Why this tree? Why now? Were there alternatives? Could our big beautiful tree be taken down next year or the year after? Does this have to happen today? It didn’t happen that very day but it did happen.


Looking at our amputated tree made me sick.

Normally, the City leaves a tree like this for a year before cutting it down to the ground. It sat there in late fall, a barren stalk of thick wood, branchless, leafless, hopeless, a metaphor for the darkness of winter. But then, magically, the City came at dawn the next morning and cut the tree down to the ground. We went outside and stood on the stump.

Having a new baby tree would be like having a puppy. That’s what another City arborist said to us. We could water it, watch it grow, train it in the ways of trees. I liked his bright side thinking but choosing a new tree seemed too confusing. After all, what did I know about trees? I just knew our tree.

And then I was at a park and I saw this tree.


And I thought to myself, I want what comes next to be this beautiful red tree. When I’m gone which I most certainly will be by the time our new baby tree is this big, I want fall to mean our baby bursts forth with these gorgeous leaves. I want the people who live in our house to wake up and see our baby’s branches out the window. I want them to rake red leaves into a pile at the curb and go in the house and make dinner.

This is what comes next. This tree.

It’s a new way of thinking but I like it. People live their whole lives before thinking about what they will leave behind.  One of my things will be a red tree.


Choice from the arborist’s list: Acer X Freemanii “Sienna Glenn”

4 Comments on “What Comes Next

  1. The management of trees to rejuvenate their growth and lifespan is called pollarding, which looks like what could have been done here. It may look bad but there could be many underlying conditions a tree has when assessed for pollarding, so this practice can actually save the tree. Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollarding

  2. There’s a red tree in the park next door. People come from all over to see it and be filled with wonder. To me, that’s what faith is: the ability to see beauty and delight in it. Here’s to planting for the next ones to see and feel. (Meanwhile, arborists just plain HATE Norway maples. And box elders. No way around that I guess.)

  3. Love the positive attitude 🙂 Good and bad go together so it’s always nice to try to look to the good side of things.. Love the red tree!

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