Last weeks storm felled an enormous and much-loved tree down our street. We had worried about it the week before when city trimmers lopped off half of its limbs due to concerns about rot. Days later, the gentle giant turned treacherous, the remaining trunk snapping when powerful gusts blew through the area. It took down three power poles and draped nearby buildings with wires.
With the power out all I could think about were the pounds and pounds of berries, jam and pickles I had made and frozen. After we hooked up our generator I stopped to think of the tree. Neighbors gathered round to marvel at nature's fury and pay their respects to not just a tree but a beloved member of the community. I knew I'd miss its welcome shade on my walks.
Days later a notice appeared tacked to the trunk showing the possibilities one man finds in such tree tragedies. What Mother Nature tears down he fashions into vessels designed to hold memories of our treasured trees when we can no longer hug them. He seems part artist, part arboreal grief counselor.
And so it was I ran into certified arborist, Tom Peter this morning dressing rounds of wood with a white waxy substance to keep them from drying out before he can get them back to his workshop. He had sectioned off portions of the splintered trunk and was removing choice pieces that later would become lovely sculpture-like bowls.
Meanwhile the homeowner who had lost the tree was pragmatic, stating that he had always had trouble growing grass in its shadow. He missed the tree but was ready to move on once the stump was ground. The rest of us are hoping to buy a little piece of the tree that has graced that corner for what Peter thinks, based on the rings, to be at least 145 years.
You can see more of Tom Peters work at his website Respectful Transitions. He'll be at the Linden Hills Farmers Market in two weeks with these beautiful works of art.