top of page
  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

Tears for the Cottonwoods

English: Narrowleaf cottownwoods (Populus angu...

I have not lived in my neighborhood for all that long—three years. In those three years, every morning that I possibly could I sat outside with my cup of tea in hand and meditated upon the three large cottonwoods that grew in the lot adjacent the back yard. The city owns that lot and for some unknown, unexplained reason they cut down the three majestic cottonwoods today.

The trees had housed two grey owls, who one morning blessed me by flying from deep within the foliage of those trees to land upon the fence and look me in the eye. I found great comfort in the hooting sounds they made in the early hours of the day, and feel a sad, sickening sense in my stomach about where they will go now.

Cities never try to explain to small neighborhoods like mine why they cut down such majestic trees, nor do they leave room for what should have been a funeral. Each of my neighbors could have been marching around the great trees and giving thanks for their beauty; giving thanks for the rustling sounds of leaves that shimmer throughout the day for more than half the year. But cities do not tell you when the branches will be crashing down. They feel that they owe no explanation.

I am so sad to see those trees go. I have loved them with a reverence and in awe. They stilled my heart at dawn, and brought a smile to my lips in the evening. They were the focus of my gaze when I sat quietly bundled in robe and slippers; or in shorts and t-shirt. I knew them through every season and today they came down with their golden autumn leaves still attached.

This is a sad day for this neighborhood and I know that I do not grieve alone, for how could anyone who drank in the wonder of those cottonwoods which arms always stretched up to heaven in prayer, not feel an empty longing for their now stark absence.

1 view


bottom of page