A Great Tree Friend

by Julia Helen Tracy

In my neighborhood there is an old (90ish years) Thuja plicata (western red cedar) tree.  For quite some months I was involved in a group trying to save this magnificent tree from development, but sadly, it is likely to be cut down in the next few years – we lost our appeal to the City of Seattle.  During the course of our appeal process I wrote the following poem, which was presented as my testimony at a community meeting:

Thuja plicata aka Big Red

Arboreal neighbor
standing 100 feet tall,
a beacon of beauty and hope
in an ever-growing urban neighborhood;
your scent speaks of
ancient forests
and reminds us to
count your great and glorious blessings:
snug shelter to innumerable critters
(both crawling and flying),
vast air filter,
robust stormwater catchment,
soaring shade provider,
world-class windbreak…

Yet all these ecosystem services
say nothing of
the deep green respite
you bring to our eyes,
or how you feed the souls
of your hungry neighbors.

Knowingly or unknowingly,
some of us glad, others angry -
we are all made richer by your presence.
April 2009

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Posted: Friday, June 25th, 2010

One Response to “A Great Tree Friend”

  1. While I do sympathise with this story, as the more trees we can keep from being felled, the better; especially ancient ones. This said, if there’s no way this tree can be saved, I would suggest that as a community you give the tree life in another form. We design play areas for children and advise communities that where trees are being felled, they are carefully placed and embeded into play areas so that children can climb over them, thus sustaining some form of continued relationship with the tree. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a play area, but if the tree can be saved in another form other than fire wood or furniture, and is as close to its natural form as possible, then the tree has another story to tell and another life to lead.

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