When we moved into our house in Madrona all those many years ago, we were surrounded by trees. Too many trees really, which we felled, one by one, over the years. They were crowding each other out and some of them had to go in order for the others to live. Also, we were looking for the light.
The one tree we kept and pruned and fretted over for eighteen years was an enormous fir tree in the southwest corner of the backyard. It was a bit of a hazard because of its age and size, and even when it was able to withstand a terrible windstorm, it still divested itself of fairly threatening branches from time to time. It was also always messy and nothing else could grow in its vicinity since it hogged all the sunshine.
We kept it because it shielded us from the neighbors and provided privacy, and we kept it because it was venerable.
A long-standing neighbor had told us a story of how, when the one-time matriarch of our home died, no hearse ever came to take her body away. Instead, in the middle of night after she died, a couple of people living in the house dug a deep hole beneath this tree, noisily hacked up a broken washing machine, threw it in the hole, and covered the whole thing back up.
It was this neighbor’s belief that the old woman who died was buried there with the washing machine. Burying the washing machine was merely a diversion.
Over the years, we added the bodies of deceased birds and our two beloved cats to the graves underneath this tree.
Driving by the other day, I was stopped by seeing that the new owners had finally had the tree removed. Completely.
These new buyers also took down some fencing and added a new walkway, presumably to make it easier to wheel their band equipment to the basement. They are musicians. When I saw their real estate agent the other day, she told me they had also wanted to let in more light. I don’t blame them. I actually like the improvement.
It made me happy then to also see that they have kept some things the same, including the mail basket on the front porch.
We did wonder, though, what they found back there when they dug up the old tree. It was a thorough job; shredded wood chips, a result of the removal, now cover the ground throughout the yard. Ashes to ashes.