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Me and Trees
I live in the mountains in a house surrounded by trees. In the woods, in other words.

I like it here, and in particular, I like all those trees. As much as anything else, they’re the reason I live in the country. They’re beautiful, and they supply me with oxygen, shade, and serenity.

If that makes it sound like the trees and I are solid partners, or even friends, I’m afraid it hasn’t played out that way. My side of the relationship consists mostly of cutting them down. By my reckoning, I have felled roughly 70 of my leafy comrades since moving here 50 years ago. And that’s not even counting the saplings (baby trees, if you like).

Even as I write this, five more are coming down on the upper hillside. It’s not a total massacre, really. Three were already dead thanks to the big fire in 2020, and the other two were weakened by it. But it’s not a mercy killing, either. If one of those two still-living trees were to fall, they might wreck some of my stuff. Can’t have that.

The truth of it is that, in spite of my professed love for them and my appreciation for their crucial role in maintaining a healthy planet, I treat trees pretty badly. I cut them down, I burn their corpses for heat, I traffic in the sale of their bodies and use them to build my home and outbuildings. They’ve done me some bad turns too, I guess, but as far as I can tell none of that was on purpose.

I’m not sure what to do with my guilt over this unhealthy relationship. I do give money to the Sierra Club and other environmental causes. I plant trees, and I nurture them. I try as hard as I can not to hurt trees if I don’t have to. But none of that will erase the history of carnage committed solely for my own convenience.

Maybe I could do a little light pruning, though. I hear they like that.
Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz