a letter to the tree they cut down outside our apartment window

Dear Tree,

I’m sorry I haven’t properly introduced myself before. I’m Dallas, and I live in this apartment with my husband Allyn, and I have loved you since the first day we moved in one year and two months ago. In fact, you were one of the first things I noticed about the apartment when we were looking at potential places to live around the city. I fell in love with your tall, thick-leaved, beautiful branches, stretching over the apartment balcony in a protective way. Your limbs waved slightly in the breeze — friendly, as if you were saying hello.

Over the next fourteen months, you gave us so much without ever asking for anything in return. During the extremely hot summer, you provided welcome shade from the harsh midday sun. Your pretty branches gave us some privacy from the neighbors all around us, making our apartment feel more secluded. When we dined al fresco on our little balcony, your lush leaves reminded me of the time we traveled to Spain and ate outdoors, and our home-cooked meal felt a tad bit fancier. My writing desk is situated right beside the window that looked out at you, and when I was feeling stuck I would gaze out at your greenery. You made me feel calm and inspired. If that wasn’t enough, birds perched on your branches and serenaded us. What more could we ask for in a companion, dear tree?

I wish I had told you all of this sooner. Sure, I appreciated you, but it was in the absent-minded way you appreciate things you take for granted. Things you think will be around forever.

{you provided such a lovely backdrop for our save-the-date photo}

A few weeks ago, the building manager knocked on our door and gave us the news. It was so unexpected. He said that you were old, and that with all of the storms lately you had become a danger. Trees fall over onto houses and apartments and sometimes they do damage and sometimes they hurt people. He said you were impeding on the apartment below us and next to us. He said you had to come down and that was that. There was nothing we could do. We don’t own the property — we are just renters — and so we don’t own you.

When the men came to cut you down, I couldn’t watch. I felt sick and sad and I kept thinking of this Jack Johnson song with lyrics about a tree that burns down. I promise, tree, that one day, Allyn and I will have a house of our own and we will plant lots of your brothers and sisters in our yard. Until then, I want you to know that I donated to The Nature Conservancy to plant a tree in honor of you.

We miss you, dear tree. We miss you a lot. We miss your shade and your beauty. We miss your quiet presence. We miss your wisdom that reminded us of the world that was here before we came onto the scene, and the world that will be here after we leave, and that maybe our problems aren’t so big after all, and maybe our lives are a little more precious than we make them out to be in the day-to-day tasks and busyness. When I think of you, tree, I think of how you were once a small seedling, and then a sapling, and how you just kept growing and growing and growing towards the sunlight. I want to be like you. I want to have your patience and your fortitude, your generosity and your grace.

Your final lesson to me was to focus even more of my energy on appreciating the lovely little details in my life. I loved you while you were alive, but I wish I had been even more present to your presence. I wish I had thanked you every day and marveled every day at the magic of having you in our lives, sheltering our little apartment and sharing your shade with us. You have reminded me of the fleeting nature of this life, and because of you I am hugging the things I love a little tighter, a little closer, a little fiercer. Because of you, I notice and appreciate all the other trees I come across {even though none of them are quite as beautiful as you} and because of you, I am saying prayers of gratitude for all the everyday riches in my imperfect, messy life.

Love,
Dallas

 

Your turn {if you want}:

  • Write a letter to a tree that has been meaningful in your life.
  • Write a letter to a different object {natural or man-made} or a place that has mattered to you.
  • What is something small in your life that you can appreciate and be grateful for, right this very moment?

fabulous friday #40

Happy Friday, dear friends! I hope you have had a wonderful week and that your TGIF is running along smoothly. I must admit I don’t quite know where this morning went! Yoga class, breakfast, emails, a couple phone calls for work, and now it’s already lunch time! This afternoon I’m hoping to make some headway on a couple writing/editing projects; go to the Verizon store to get my new phone working {my old phone went on the fritz but was insured so I was able to replace it at no cost, woo hoo!}; and then I’ll be tutoring a few kids from late afternoon into the evening.

Should be a great day! Then again, as my Gramps likes to say with a wry smile, “Every day I’m above ground is a great day for me!” Which I think is a grateful attitude you don’t need to be an octogenarian to adopt. 🙂

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous autumn leaves setting the world on fire right now. Here’s the maple in our side yard, right outside the kitchen window. Every time I see it, my heart leaps. I love the autumn!

maple tree

2. Tazo pumpkin spice chai tea. I scooped this up on sale at Target last week and I’ve been enjoying it every morning since. Nothing like pumpkiny, cinnamony goodness to get my day started off right! {Or perk me up in the middle of a long writing/work sesh!}

tazo pumpkin spice chai tea

Also, this is probably just showing my nerdiness, but does anyone else amuse themselves by reading the writing on food/drink boxes? The story on the Tazo pumpkin spice chai tea box had me smiling: “Cinnamon and cardamom sit by a crackling clove fire, knitting elegant black-tea scarves. Ginger waltzes in with a just-baked pumpkin pie, and the room turns aromatic with sweet spice.” Mmmm. Don’t you just want to curl up and get cozy after reading those words?

3. Not to go TOO pumpkin-crazy {my brother would say, “Too late!” haha} but I was excited to find these pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses in the discounted Halloween candy section when I got my flu shot earlier this week. Has anyone else tried these babies? I had never even heard of them before, but I was intrigued so I got them.

pumpkin spice hershey kisses

I will say that, as a chocolate-lover, I wish there was some chocolate swirled throughout along with the pumpkin, but these are still a delicious {and dangerously poppable} treat! This weekend I’m planning to bake cookies featuring these pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses, inspired by my aunt Elaine’s peanut butter blossoms. If they turn out well, I’ll share the recipe!

4. I’m serving as Worship Associate at my church this Sunday, and the sermon’s theme is transience and permanence. While writing my Call to Worship, I came across this beautiful quote from Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, forever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.

5. This blog is featured on TheBetsy.com today — check out this article about Day-by-Day Masterpiece! Thanks to TheBetsy for their support!

Have a delightful weekend, everyone!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?