The other day I watched a tree cut down. A jacaranda. The tree was leafy, a vibrant bright green. Light green, but there was a depth to the colour, just as there was depth to the mindless being which stood for so long shading that corner of my city. Offering its branches as shelter. Offering the strength of its boughs as home and safety and sanctuary to birds and other creatures who find none on the ground.
Trees are such quiet things. They endure silently. Because they are quiet they go unnoticed. Like self-effacing people who are overlooked, who mean nothing because they say little. Their calm wisdom, their understated intellect, are disregarded. People will only notice that tree now it’s gone: “Hey, didn’t there used to be a tree there?” We have an insatiable appetite for the instant, for that which we can grasp, and yet trees exist in a sphere both on the periphery of and beyond that. Their history, their wisdom, whatever consciousness they might have – it is too slow and deep for the swiftness and demands of human thought.
I stood on the corner and I listened to the roar of the chainsaw so at odds with the tree’s former gentle fortitude; I heard the deep groaning of anguished splitting wood: the tree made its loudest noise as it was being wrenched apart. And I breathed in deeply as it released its scent: intoxicating, fresh, like sunlight on forests, like cleanliness. The tree released such life-giving aroma in the moment of its death and even those men whose job was to destroy it stopped to inhale how it coloured the air.
I watched the death of a tree and drank in the fragrance of the tree’s final gift, and then the next day all that was left was the sweetly-scented drift of sawdust, scattered like a memory.