Sometimes change is wonderful. When the autumn leaves start to turn, and the beauty of the underlying colors is revealed, I love change. I love the movements between seasons, and the unsleeping face of Lake Michigan during a high wind.
Some change I love. Other times change is not so easy.
One kind of change I find tough is saying goodbye, and this week we had to say goodbye to two of the old maples in our front yard. They had been planted some time in the 1880s by the original owner of our house, a Mr. Johnson, and they had grown to mighty specimens in the last 130 years.
But things change, and the trees needed to come down, so the village hired a crew to do the deed. I was out of town when they came, but that’s good. Last time I watched them take out one of the old trees, I cried. It was amazing how efficient they were: what took decades to grow and blossom took less than an hour to bring down. It just struck me as so sad, how quick and cavalier we can be in removing the old. So this time I was glad not to watch.
Instead, when I got home, they were gone. It was amazing to see how different the house looked without those stalwart guardians standing by. The morning shade on the front porch is gone, and I must admit that now, the front of our house looks kind of tired and old. The two maples were replaced with young, new trees, which will reach their full height long after I am gone.
Please know, I understand the decision the village had to make, but saying goodbye to those grand old giants, which had been known and enjoyed by four generations of my husband’s family since they bought the house in 1882 and watched Suttons Bay grow from unpaved streets to what it is now, was sad to me.
There is a story in the Talmud about Rabbi Honi who comes across an old man planting a carob tree. Rabbi Honi kind of mocks him and says, “Carobs take years to grow. Do you honestly think you will live to seem them bear fruit?”
“No,” said the old man, “I don’t expect to live to see the fruit, but just as generations before me planted so that I would have fruit, so I am planting so that future generations will enjoy the fruit.”
I get that the old trees needed to come down and that planting new trees is the right thing to do, but nonetheless I feel I have said goodbye to some old friends. My hope is that some day, some nice family will enjoy the new trees as treasured friends, knowing that they have stood by for generations watching change come and go, standing silently as witnesses as everything changes.