We’ve got a tree dying in the backyard. It’s a largish flowering cherry tree, prominent and contributing significantly to our privacy, but with few leaves left and signaling that its best days are past.

Dying trees invariably sadden me. I can’t help but notice them when I drive about the city, and the deaths seem more frequent lately.

There is something ominous about the death of trees. They linger long after they’ve died, reminding us of our environment and the impending doom of climate change. Who needs that reminder right now?

And it’s simply a loss, a substantial investment in time that you can’t recover. I’m not exaggerating when I say the death of a huge oak or elm is like Notre Dame burning down. Irreplaceable, really. A loss of decades, of centuries.

So, I’m not happy about having to do this, to orchestrate its removal. But it’s worse to leave it looming morbidly, and so I’ve been methodically disassembling it over the past several days.

The strategy has been to chop it down from the top, limb by large limb. The progress is slow, segments at a time, but maybe only a few in a day. There are other things to do, and I try not to misappropriate my neighbors’ time when they are called to manage a rope or otherwise keep me from doing something stupid.

At this point, it’s now a very tall and spindly stump. Perhaps twenty feet tall, but at the base it is almost two feet thick. Substantial. It has proved formidable resistance to my chopping efforts. 

But it will eventually come down. I attack it every day. Chip away at it. Literally. The key is to keep at it, a little at a time. It seemed a rather imposing challenge a couple weeks ago, but the tree is almost down. If not tomorrow, then the day after.

I suppose this is a metaphor for something, but I’m too sore to think about what that might be.