Last week, we had a 25 year old cottonwood tree taken down. It was very gnarly and the roots where far enough out of the ground to trip over and make mowing difficult. I have been wanting to take it down the past couple of years, even though I will miss the shade. I told Richard he could say “I told you so” when I complain about how hot the bedroom is at night this summer. But on the good side, the Aspens will now grow up straight instead of having to fight the cottonwood for sun. And a cottonwood will take 250 gallons of water out of the ground on a hot day. No wonder the backyard looks so bad.
Watching the crew take down the tree was like watching a surgeon. They started at the top, tying ropes so the limbs could be lowered carefully, so as not to hit the fence or our house or the neighbor’s house. The only causality was a small branch off the Autumn Blaze Maple. Working as a team, the crew removed the tree in a day.
They next day, they came back to trim the Silver Maple and take the cottonwood stump out. Watching them grind the stump was amazing. The stump grinder literally removed a little bit at a time, actually shaving the stump off in small pieces. Then the process was repeated with the roots, getting as many as possible out of the ground. Unless the stump and roots are removed, little cottonwoods would continue to spring up all over the yard. Now, you would never know there was a tree in that spot at all. The plan now is to move the small (and I mean 12 INCHES) green ash to where the cottonwood was and move two lilac bushes so they will get more sun and water.
I think sometimes we need the same process for ourselves on the inside. We have all made choices that were not so good, been hurt and life has just beat us up. Painful roots get wrapped around our heart and squeeze. Sometimes the tree of hurt or regret grows big enough to be seen on the outside and we trip over the roots. That makes life hard. We react instead of act, taking our pain out on others by our words or actions.
When I respond poorly to a situation or person, I know that it’s time to look inside, find the tree and cut it down. But that’s not enough. I also have to grind the roots from my heart so the tree can’t grow again. It’s not an easy process, but a necessary one. Then I can get enough sunlight and water so I can continue to grow.