The Impermanence of Trees (and Everything Else)

Call me a Chicken Little, but trees scare me. They grow while you are sleeping, and they can come crashing down at any time. Right now, a sugar maple is lying partially across our roof. I’ve considered leaving it there as proof to my husband that I can indeed foretell disaster, a talent I would not wish upon my worst enemy.  The damage certainly could have been worse. The impact took out our aluminum chimney along with a rain gutter for good measure. At least the tree didn’t fall on our new kitchen, or on us for that matter.

“Why can’t you use your witchy powers for good instead of evil?” B implores me as I nervously pace the property, turning my gaze upwards to the stand of old-growth pines out back. “Maybe we can call in a lumbering company to take them all away,” I say without a hint of remorse. “Let’s not get crazy,” B says. Too late.

Tree removal is expensive, and therefore must be carefully considered on our Smallpeace budget. Oh, did I mention, we just spent a wad of cash having two “unsafe” trees cut down last fall…so they wouldn’t fall on the house!

Thank goodness for the neighbors who drive by and gawk, for they are the ones who usually get the best photos for the insurance adjustor in our absence. Not all of them stop to gloat, mind you. There are the compassionate ones, valued friends who shake their heads in disbelief at our recent spate of bad luck; or good luck, depending on how you look at things. Hey, we’re still here, aren’t we?

Going forward, I will try my best to use my witchy powers for good, letting the chips—and the trees—fall where they may. But like so much else in our lives, anticipating the worst is a very difficult habit to break. All the more because, when I close my eyes at night, I remember the catastrophic health crisis I just survived.

Meanwhile at Smallpeace, life goes on in spite of my hyper-vigilance, as though the next disaster weren’t lurking around the corner, as if lightening couldn’t strike any one of us at any moment! Out on the lawn, my industrious husband is getting busy chopping up the ill-fated sugar maple. We will have more firewood this winter than we know what to do with. Our contractor Jay will come by to mend the chimney. He knows where we hide the key. And eventually, inevitably, all will be put right again.

About Smallpeace

Michele Karas is a poet, essayist, and longstanding professional copywriter, who currently works for a top-five US book publisher. Her poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, including Tinderbox, THRUSH, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Narrative magazine, among others. Michele holds a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from CUNY, The City College of New York. Find her on Twitter @small_peace.
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10 Responses to The Impermanence of Trees (and Everything Else)

  1. Touch2Touch says:

    Okay, so you have Cassandra’s “gift” (here’s the link if you’ve forgotten just who she is: —
    But you don’t have to let it overwhelm you. A better lady from history to hang out with is Dame Julian of Norwich, who said (and meant it): All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.
    Your choice.
    (Hyper-vigilance is bad for the health. I know!)

    • Smallpeace says:

      Thanks, T2T. As always, you are ready with the words of wisdom. I know Cassandra well, have even played her on stage. A clear case of type casting. But I prefer Dame Norwich’s sunny outlook, so I shall aspire to her healthier frame of mind. With gratitude, M

  2. Barbara says:

    It was scary looking at the photos and considering what might have been had you been there or outside sitting on the porch. However, I do like the idea of MORE
    firewood this winter to save on the oil bill. Please believe the worst is over and the sun is peeking through the clouds and tree limbs and sleep peacefully my dear girl. We can’t worry about what we can’t change and sometimes we can’t even change what we think we can change……philosophy from the Mother Ship.

  3. Phyllis Geving says:

    So sorry for your little red house, but am happy it is fixable! Even more so, I am thankful that you were fixable, and will have many more years to enjoy the sweet time you spend at Smallpeace!

    • Smallpeace says:

      Phyllis, I know you have a special understanding of the anxiety that lingers post diagnosis, so I will count you as one of my lucky charms. Thanks for your kind thoughts. And yes, the house is fixable. Yay.

  4. Karen says:

    Thank goodness that your damage was light considering what it could have been. Our summer cottage in Maine is surrounded by pines that are huge. We had the eight closest to our home removed. A special crane had to be brought in and then a lumber jack climbed the remaining way up. It was expensive but I can sleep better.

  5. David says:

    Darn it, tree. Why’d you have to go and do that. Stupid tree. You were a nice tree and I have admired you in the past, but now you’re not on my Favorite Tree list, that’s for sure. You can try to redeem yourself in the woodstove, but it looks like the new chimney gets the last laugh, tree.

  6. Smallpeace says:

    I’m saving my pennies as I write, Karen. The pines out back are beautiful—but there are plenty more deeper into the property. I’m hoping we can have a few removed by next year. Summer cottage in Maine? You do live the good life. We spent a few lovely summers there before buying Smallpeace.

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