CutPoplar1I have never thought much about the death of trees. Until today.

I have thought about the death of farm animals, since I kill with my own hands the pigs that I’ve raised, with my own hands. I have often wished they could supply us with the food that nourishes and brings joy and conviviality, without their having to die. But such cannot be. I am convinced that the meat of animals is a gift for human life—to be received with gratitude and care; and this requires that animals be killed. It seems to me fitting that I kill at least some of the animals that I eat. It helps me keep me in mind what my eating of meat requires—of people and of pigs.

Today a tree was cut down. It wasn’t a uniquely majestic tree. But majestic it was, while it still stood alive. Through a miscommunication with the men who are doing a selective cutting of trees in the woods owned—if one can speak of ‘owning’ things that are alive—by my mother, this tree (and indeed some others) were accidentally cut down. The reason this tree was special to me is not to the point. It just was. And now it is gone, on the way to a lumber mill where no one will ever know—will someone at least pause to wonder?—the majesty that belonged to it, and what it meant to me, in its native earth, the very soil I call home. Today was rather traumatic for me, and it gave me occasion to think about trees, and life.

Is it unfitting to be concerned about trees, when so many people suffer in so many ways? Perhaps. But then again, maybe having a true appreciation of trees is somehow a part of knowing who we are, and how to live.

I still intend to use wood and things made of wood, which nourish and bring joy and conviviality. But I resolve never again to take wood for granted; nor the trees, whose life and death, give us wood, and life.

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