As my frontier lineage has trained me, I wandered into our back yard to survey the land. Hands on hips, looking into the morning sun, squinting to see what God hath wrought. The rains have been coming in steadily over the past month. Not enough to relieve four years of California drought, but enough to return our little acre. What amounts to our lawn was green and lush. If you didn't look too close, you might mistake the mass of tangled weeds for grass. It looked like spring down there. The trees told a different story. They said it was winter, with a prodigious lack of leaves to mark the season.
I looked up the hill at what used to be our apple tree. Our orchard. The place from whence all our applesauce once came. Our apple pies. Our afternoon fruit snacks. It was now just a snag, a sliver of its former self. The limbs had been trimmed months ago, once the tree had been declared oflficially dead. It was not a decision made lightly, since our family had grown used to the autumn harvest and the variety of apple-related treats it would provide. But that's where we left things, and this past September there was no harvest. Only a snaggly shadow of the giving tree that had given its all. Now I was standing next to it, sizing it up. Without its lofty branches, what was left barely came up to my eye level.
I leaned on it. It moved easily in the moist soil. I pushed just a little harder and heard a muffled pop. From down below, the rotted roots simply gave way and it toppled to the ground. Now all that was left of our apple tree was a shallow hole in the ground and some lumber. I went inside to confess my sin to the lady of the house. She was forgiving, but wanted to witness the end. There wasn't much to see. Just years and years of memories. Shade and climbing and sour bites and leaves rustling in the wind. It was the first tree our son climbed. It would be a whole lot easier now.
I went to the garage and brought out the saw. Rot and drought made my job an easy one. There were now two big chunks of apple tree to toss into our compost dumpster. At the end of the week, it would be rolled to the curb. Eventually, mulch would be made of our tree. Eventually, bits of it would be spread about the city in its new, less organized form. Entrop-tree.