Copyright© 2003/4 by dotB
The old lady watched sadly as the giant fir tree began to topple, creaking, snapping, rushing faster, and faster, then smashing into smaller trees and bushes to finally crash to the ground. The sentinel that had stood on the hill above her home was gone and now there was a gaping hole in her oft remembered skyline. There would be no more picnics beneath its spreading branches, no more quiet place to rest after the steep walk to the top of the hill, no more weather vane to watch from her window to see what the day would be like. For years she had used the old tree for her own purposes, never supposing that one day it would no longer be there.
As long as she could remember, the fir had stood tall and strong on the crest of the hill, across from her home. In fact one of her first memories was standing in the lee of the fir with her father, as the wind blew snow around them. They had gone out to get a Christmas tree for her family and her father had taken her to the top of the hill to "his" tree, for near it grew many smaller trees that were more suitable as Christmas trees. She had been so young and her legs had been so short that he had carried her through the deepest of the snow drifts, but even then she had been independent, she had insisted on walking as much as possible. She remembered the solid strong feeling of the tree behind her, and at the same time she remembered the smell of her father's pipe and the deep rasping sound of his voice.
The fir had become "their" tree and later, after her father had died, it had become "her" tree. It was under the fir that she had felt the first flushes of romance, and it was beneath its shelter where the man who had later become her husband had first kissed her. While she hadn't given him the boon of her virginity beneath its spreading branches, she was almost certain that her fourth child had been conceived there. A child conceived in loving ardour as she bid her husband farewell to go and fight in the war that had taken his life. It was beneath that tree where she had mourned that man after receiving the stark telegram that told of his death, for it was under the fir that she had habitually gone to seek calm and solace when she had felt troubled.
In fact, no matter what her mood, she had found that she enjoyed her times spent in the shade of the old fir's branches. She had often dozed in its shade while the breeze whispered in the branches above and many were the times she had relaxed and watched the antics of the ravens that had nested in the heights of the tree, often seeing the young ravens as they first ventured forth in flight. She had taken her children and her children's children to play in the deep bed of needles at the fir's base. There they had sat and relaxed, often gazing out over the community that had grown up at the base of the hill. It had been several months since she had felt well and strong enough to climb the hill to "her" tree and now she knew that she could never make the trip again.
A fall storm had spelled the death knell of the old fir, whipping and twisting its brittle old trunk so badly that the tree had split. It had been pronounced a danger to anyone nearing it and now her grandson had felled it in moments, a living thing that had taken eons, if not centuries, to grow was now nothing more than uncut firewood.
Slowly she turned from the kitchen window, to hobble over and settle down in her favourite chair. She leaned back, remembering the tree and all that it had meant to her over the years and as she relaxed, she closed her eyes.
While she dozed, she dreamed of days gone by, of people that she had loved and been loved by. She dreamed of children, who were now grown and gone on to live lives of their own. She dreamed of friends and neighbours, of their lives and deaths, and as she leaned back dreaming, suddenly she felt a pain deep in her chest. A sudden pain that grew and grew, then suddenly was gone. One last shuddering ancient breath and then she relaxed, to move no more.