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Wednesday, May 7

she lives

This tree grows at the tip of the corner upon which our old house stands. I doubt that she is as old as the house, but she's no sapling. Her beautiful display every Spring always gladdens my heart. But we almost lost her during the October storm and last Spring I thought her will to bloom had died.

The day of the storm, I had gone off to work with no coat. It was a cool Fall morning. When the temperature dropped and the sleet started, I thought my biggest problem was going to be the hundred feet from the back of the theater to my car. But on the way home I already had been detoured by fallen limbs and the snow was falling in clumps and the sprawling, meandering branches of the corner tree lay heavy on the sidewalk and I felt the pain of it in my gut. With no coat, only a long scarf I snagged from the back seat wrapped around my head and neck, I ran to save her somehow but it felt like a losing battle. I shook the limbs and some of them rose up a bit. Encouraged, I went around to the others, shaking branches, jumping up into the center to dislodge the heavy coating. Snow fell into my collar, down my back, my hair was plastered to my head. I dashed into the house for a coat, and by the time I came back out, the tree was loaded down again and the branches were back on the sidewalk. I took a broom to it, swinging it like a wild woman from beneath it's canopy, ignoring the wet snow that covered me, unaware of how absurd I must look. I would get enough snow off one side to get the branches up and by the time I did the other side, the first side was collapsed against the walk again. I felt powerless and angry and sure I would lose this cherished tree. Shivering and sad, I went in and told myself it was just a tree, for cripes sake. There was nothing I could do.

During the night, along with everyone else in the city, I listened to trees snap, the sound like breaking bones, heard the whoosh as they fell into the snow. With no light, no heat, the long hours til dawn were interminable. The devastation in the morning was so vast, so incomprehensible, my little flower tree on the corner became just one of many heartbreaks, the realities of the cleanup taking precedence over sentiment.

A few days later, Russell said he thought a major limb of the tree had to go and that it might be more than the rest of it could bear. We might lose the tree. He removed a huge piece from its very center and we hoped for the best.

She didn't die, but the next year, when May came, it was a sad sight. Some buds came, but few opened. Leaves came, but sparingly and they were dry and looked spent before they had been out a week. We trimmed branches as if that would help. I thought the days of glorious Spring color were over and it made me sad. For 10 years, that explosion of pink outside the front window meant the end of Winter. It used to be against a backdrop of the white blossoms on the street behind it, but we lost those to the chain saws.

So, last week when Russell asked me if I had seen the tree, I expected more bad news. But he said she was loaded with buds. Yes, but would they open? When we came back from Virginia, there she stood, welcoming us home, full of flowers and life and Spring.

An expert said that our trees had been traumatized and that it might take a year or 2 for the survivors to come back. I guess that's all it is. But to me it is an old girl, bowed and broken, raising her arms once again to the sun, offering her beautiful blossoms. It is joy.

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