Spring Mourning


     The day before was warm, the earth waking and stretching, languid in the bright sunlight. Lying on the grass, I could hear things growing, pushing up towards the sun. Dog by my side, just in the shade of the crabapple tree, and the pages of my abandoned book slowly turning in the breeze I halfheartedly promised myself I would go in and start supper, in just a minute. I was also going to look up the term nematologist and search for a picture so I could see if there really was a type of woodpecker practically extinct in the woods of Georgia (neither was really central to the book’s story line but I like to know what there is to know), in just a minute. That minute hung indefinitely in the spring air like the smell of apple blossoms and the golden pine pollen floating on that lazy breeze.

     I watched Kera turn her fuzzy head back and forth following the dive pattern of the birds as they swooped across the yard. Graceful and precise they did not seem like birds at all but more like bird shaped projectiles sliding along invisible guylines. The sky was an impossible blue that only belongs to the spring and the whole world seemed optimistic and full of possibilities. The tomorrow that was to follow was anything but.

     I live in a farming community and I understand that the bottom line of farming is business so there really is no blame to be assigned. When my neighbours sold their acreage to an absentee farmer I knew there was a chance that things might change. That change came just past the dawn that followed that perfect spring afternoon, heralded by the sound of diesel and gasoline. It was time to say good-bye to the apple trees in the old orchard behind my house.

     The orchard was years too old to be productive but it was a place of strange beauty. There were odd unexplained lights there at night. The soft soil would often be marked with the comings and goings of deer, fox and raccoon. The gnarled trees were aged like the hands of old men, grace embodied and made beautiful by the skill and toil of a full life. Even on the stillest day, the trees would shiver as if in memory of all the winds, bitter or sweet, they had known in seasons past. It is no crime but a shame none that less as the world now finds itself just a bit less beautiful in the ever powerful name of commerce.

     The morning was just as bright as the day before but instead of the accompanying chorus of birdsong, the morning, that mourning, was heralded by the sound of chainsaws and bulldozers. It is incongruous really, and almost obscene, to hear the sound of those falling limbs while the smell of apple blossoms fill the air. In winter, it might have been bearable. The trees would have been oblivious, dormant in the cold. They would have fallen asleep in the fall and simply never awakened…a kinder fate I think than this spring massacre.


     The limbs of my apple trees are alive with birds and bumblebees. The voices of the birds mix with the murmur of nonsense that all bees whisper as they go about their business.  Masses of delicate blooms, pearly through the day with the sheen of early morning dew, breathe out the ether of heaven. The blackcap and wild raspberry canes that grace my acre are gloved in bright green shoots while just a glance away the orchard canes lie crushed and broken, salting the ground that gave them root and nourishment.  Garlands of spring blossoms lie scattered and broken on the empty field. Where the orchard once was there is only the scar of broken soil, a spring mourning, glaring black and bare amidst the liquid waves of wind caressed winter wheat.




 “Whenever a tree is felled, I think of a thousand blankets ripped into sparks, or that stillness has been found and tor n open with bare hands.”

Corduroy Road

~Rita Dove



10 thoughts on “Spring Mourning

  1. oh! no! I so understand *sad frown* — I cringe whenever I hear chainsaws on my mountain.
    And I know of whichyou are speaking about — for there are apple orchards in NC as well–strange beauty is right – almost fairy land strange.


  2. So sadto hear of the trees being cut down an yes I agree…it is better to die in one\’s sleep when you are half way there anyway…Great writing as usual…


  3. I\’m not the type of person who "hates" easily… but the destruction of nature… the tearing down of the trees as if they didn\’t matter… leaving big blank spaces in the forrests and patches of formerly untouched loveliness laid bare and looking so out of place… I can honestly say I HATE that.  It makes me angry.  Why can\’t they be selective?  Why can\’t they just clear the minimum space to build?  Why does every living thing have to go so they can come and go easier?  Doesn\’t anyone realize what it\’s doing to our ecology?


  4. Impossible blue is a perfect description ! Oh ya that isn\’t nonsense that they are murmuring . They swear like sailors all day long . No, it is true ….


  5.  I love nature and the forest where i live.I live where the girl came in contact and killed with the gator last week.My heart is sad for her but we are living in the territory of the nature around us.Florida keeps growing and growing.I would be angry too if my home was replaced by three subdivisions.I am in no way taking away from what happened it was wrong but I watch everyday as like the trees the forests are disappearing.I hope you don\’t mind me commenting.I needed to vent.God bless her and her family.


  6. @The Teary Eyed Pomegranate
    It will be planted with a new crop once the winter wheat comes off the surrounding fields. I live in what used to be tobacco country and the impending death of that industry (crop) has left many farmers in dire straights. The soil here is sandy and wonderfully suited to growing tobacco (which incidentally was an industry that was further bolstered by the knowledge of former slave settlers during and after the American Civil War). For years farmers made a generous living from  tobacco crops but the changing trends in the tobacco industry and the low cost of imported vs homegrown product has changed the entire industry…this in addition to the difficulties that face anyone working in the agricultural sector today.
    Individually family owned farms are becoming extinct. In order to make any kind of money you must farm corporate, buying large amounts of acreage and managing them from afar.  It\’s not community minded but it is the only way to survive. Perhaps when the new crop is sown it won\’t seem so bare but right now it\’s like a fresh mound of earth above a grave…raw, dark and sad.
    How horrible Charlotte. I hadn\’t heard about that particular tragedy. It is always so sad to lose a child. There is no comfort or explanation that eases the way for that pain. I don\’t mind you venting. I think that it is important to remember that we share this world with a host of other creatures. Obviously it would be dangerous for us to believe that we don\’t walk a fine line when we move out into these wildlife habitats. Human encroachment isn\’t the only culprit as global warming changes the migratory patterns, mating habits and acceptable environments of northern species. We don\’t have wild gators here in Canada but there are a host of other dangerous animals (grizzlies, coyotes, cougars, wolves) that are coming into painful and sometimes deadly contact with the human population. There has to be some sort of solution but for some it\’s too late. 
    Take care Charlotte,
    Those skies are something aren\’t they? By the way, if I\’d known that the bees were swearing like sailors I would have listened a little more closely. I can always use new ammunition for my  cursing vocabulary.
    I think it\’s the later generation philosophy. The price to be paid is so far in the future that people just don\’t care what they do today and it really is a shame. There\’s always a price to be paid…sins of the father type of thing but if things keep up this way there might be no one left to pay it.
    I think that\’s the best way to go… just drift off no fear, no pain, just peace. I watched a documentary last year about women who worked in palliative care. It was pretty graphic but seeing the patients who went in their sleep, well if you had to go (and we all do) then that is the way to go.  I know the trees weren\’t human in the sense of you and I but I do think that living things have a consciousness, there is life there and some type of rudimentary sense of existence.
    Fairy like…I have to agree. It\’s fragrant snow in spring with blossoms wrapping the branches in layers of white. The smell is (was) incredible. I wish that I could change things, I wish that things were different but wishes aren\’t horses and so I have to walk instead of ride. 


  7. @Brenda
    Homegrown won\’t be a problem this year as the trees in my yard had enough time to pollinate with the orchard. Next year might be interesting…=/*


  8. my new home is dead farmland, the soil had been used for just too long.  i felt a little better about that. 
    the thing that bothered me was the truckloads of lumber arriving to build it and the other homes on my street.  in my neighborhood.  my city.  its just booming here. 
    i always silently thank the mighty forest for giving itself up so i could have shelter.  it doesnt seem fair.  in its honor, i plant.  and i plant more.  someday i will stay in a home long enough to see my own forest grow.  i hope others respect what the world has lost so they could have what they wanted, and do the same if not more. 


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