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when i was five i pulled a piece of bark off of a tree in jenny farkley’s yard because i always liked to pick at stuff (ooh this is fuzzy, but it’s coming back it’s coming back, i am remembering as you begin to talk about the tree you want to uproot from your lawn) i know my kindergarten teacher always screamed as i scraped away the lamination from the name tag piece by piece by piece by piece for over a month till it was all gone all gone all gone. i scraped a little tiny piece of bark away from the trunk of the great big tree while we were talking, i was awkward i am always so awkward when i am talking to people who are always so much easier... jenny farkley saw me picking picking picking at the tree and got her eyes all big and looked at me so mad and she was always so much bigger YOU’RE KILLING IT and she told me all about a day she’d seen in a movie once, where all the trees are gone and we are sad and we do miss them.

how would you like it if a tree pulled the skin off you?

i cried and sat in a corner by myself and let the big girls talk about all the big girl things that big girls talk about and let my little tiny fingers run along and wander through the grass and tear and wander raking quietly. somewhere in the yard i found my little fingers wrapped around a helicopter whirly seed, listening to all their talk about the way that tree would die. i held a seed inside my hands and i stopped crying, choosing not to tear it up in little pieces, little sections like i always like to do. i looked at it real closely, held it up and then resolved, and put my fingers in the ground and used a stick and made a tiny, tiny hole. i planted me a new tree and imagined it could grow up big and strong and be even better than the tree i killed because i didn’t didn’t didn’t didn’t know. but oh i was so sad and i did miss it.

the old tree never died and my tree never grew. but i stopped picking at the bark on trees and went back to picking at my nose. i figured that was safer.

A long time ago, in a very small town not far from here, a young boy and his family moved to a new project, close to where his father taught English in High School. The house, a modest bungalow, was at the very end of a dead end street. Behind the property was a creek, followed by dense forest. To the right of the property was much the of the same.

This was the playground for the boy and his older sister. Not far up the path from the house grew a large maple tree. Directly below the lowest branch, a stump sat, as though though to proffer a step for young Tarzan and Jane to reach the solace of their tree house. Not far from there, an old, enormous moss covered log provided shelter from the elements and indians (Ah the good old days before political correctness) as the brave cowboys (even the girls were cowboys back then) rested during their escapades.

Years later, the town became more popular. Lots along the street that one stood vacant were now being cleared. One such lot was between two houses on the other side of the street. The boy, who at the time had no one with which to play in the treehouse or the shelter, decided to go to see what had been done. Stone had been blasted. Trees cut. Land cleared. On the stone the boy found a small pine. It was inches tall, the needles had browned, and had damaged roots.

"Mom, can I plant this in the yard?" the boy asked his mother.

"Oh, I don't think it will live son." she replies

"Oh yes it will, I will make it."

The mother agreed to allow the son to plant the tree, behind the house, just on the other side of the creek. The boy would always check on the tree, giving it water.

One day, progress came to visit

The boy was now in early high school. And the town more popular. One day he came home to find bulldozers. And surveyors. Over the course of that year, the forest to the side of the house was cleared. The maple was cut down. The old log cleared out. Consigned to the memory of two young teenagers. The street was extended, and houses planted in proud rows down either side.

This wasn't enough. More people came to the town looking for houses. During the years that followed, even the creek and forrest behind the house were removed to make way for the urban landscape.

In the lot built behind his family's house stood a 15 foot pine tree. Green, healthy and proud. The boy suspected that his father asked the new neighbours to keep that tree. The one his son planted.

Today, July 13th, 2001, the boy's tree, my tree, stands at over 35 feet tall. Proud that it had defied the mother's premonition.

It is the only tree in their yard. The last of its kind. The only survivor.

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