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.”