The utility man…

was in the neighborhood yesterday, sounding out the gas lines and marking the lawns with paint and flags. The trees are coming back.

This past winter marked a decimation of the trees on my block. The emerald ash borer had arrived and rather than wait until the plague spread the trees came down and their stumps ground down to the level of the grass. I understand, but still there is something somber about a fallen tree and the place where it stood begins to look like a smile with some of the teeth punched out.

Among the charms of living in an older city are the trees, some of whom pre-date the neighborhood and a lucky few that preceded even the people. Without them a city is just a human zoo covered with boxes, no shade, no green, no nature to break up the monotony until the horizon. When the trees disappear a little of what a place “home” goes with them. Our block was starting to look like a new suburb, houses without character, buildings without shade from the remorseless sun.

Yet the utility man was here, sounding out gas lines and painting lawns so the planters could dig without fear. New trees are coming, maples probably as they seem to be the only ones without an insect of some sort trying to destroy them. There will be noise and then there will be silence as the small trees reach for the sun and begin their life above, beyond, and still in the place where they were planted. Houses and people will go, but the trees watch over generations, sentinels of time, and free of disease or calamity will care for our children’s children.


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