The Ash Tree, or: Damn You, Emerald Ash Borer

You were the one who reconciled me to Fall.

Your summer leaves were always too high for me to reach, even when we both were young. You were the first to have them and the first to lose them, budding them out every year ahead of the others, shaking them off in a sudden day’s decision before the rest. “Well, I’m done,” you seemed to say, in a massive shrug.

But when summer changed to fall, you became the perfect Halloween tree I could just see from my west window, those pure yellow leaves swirling past and fetching up against my screen (always the old window in my memory), bringing with them that delectable scent and scene of raking, lamplight, and cozy jackets.

You were the final encampment my wagon of stuffed animals and dishes trundled its weary pioneer way to across the yard, mysterious side yard all silent with only you standing sentinel, perhaps chuckling a little at this fancy.

Through the years, I always made sure to visit you, slightly out of the way though you were, just around the corner of the house and banded on two sides by an old chain-link fence. Over time, cross little evergreens had appeared, making my path to you both perilous and uneven.

But you still stood there as strong as ever. Perhaps a little bent over by the years; perhaps we all were. And always easy to hug.

It’s not even summer yet and we’ve been told that you won’t live another year. We tried to save you. Now we have to watch you go.

Spring has barely come and I don’t know if I’ll see you bloom again before you are taken down, but I’ve got my old pictures to dig through and remember, and today we took more, starkly outlined though they are, pointing our lens all the way up to capture what we could.

And you too will be in my dreams the way they all are, all the old trees made young again, climbing branches and shade returned, sweet ache inside the dream and inescapable longing outside.


My green ash tree.

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