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the grand dame

May 30, 2010

our house was built in 1932.  for almost 80 years she has stood with her gaze fixed sweetly to the northwest, little changed but for the second story addition added on a dozen years ago.  it couldn’t have been too long after construction was completed that her owners flanked her east side with two black walnut trees.  for decades they sheltered her from the intense summer sun, shielded her from wintry blasts, and stood sentry between her and the traffic passing alongside.  through temperature fluctuations of 130 degrees or more, through a world war, through generations of families, this little house and her two black walnut trees weathered storms, welcomed new years, and quietly watched an ever-changing world take shape around them.

in the late 90’s the northernmost tree began to fail, and had to be removed.  its stump remained, a fitting pedestal for summer’s flowerpots to flash their colors. it stood a silent companion for its old twin, both still ringed by orange daylilies planted at their feet.

for the ten years that we have lived here, i have wakened each morning to gaze up through the skylight at the sheltering arms of the remaining grand dame.  she has defied the pull of gravity to attain a height of 60 feet, towering over the second floor addition as she once towered over the two-bedroom bungalow.  for ten years she has shaded us from the summer sun, sheltered us from unseen dangers, and given us early warning via the gentle plops of snow bombs from her branches that we would indeed receive the five a.m. phone call alerting us that it was a snow day.  to be honest, her walnuts dropped like golf balls on the skylight in late summer, but i didn’t mind.  she has been an ornamental companion, a protectress, a wildlife refuge.  you have seen her in our blog.

you have watched sunrise through her branches:

and moonrise as well:

you have seen her fingers silhouetted in the morning fog…

you have studied the snow gently line its flakes along her outstretched arm…

and seen her sporting her new spring wardrobe…

you have watched mourning doves teeter on her after an awkward landing…

and you have seen her outline reflected in the window downstairs…

we have suspected that she has not been well.  we called in arboreal specialists who gave her deep root fertilizing and insecticide, who checked her for the walnut beetles that have claimed hundreds of her kin in boulder county and found no evidence of them, who came and pruned her misshapen figure.  we gave her time, love, money.  but this spring she leveled with us.  her time has come.  she’s tired, with only enough energy to send out one third of her spring leaves.  her bark is weathered and worn.  she’s ready to go.  i have to let her.

but it’s sure going to be hard to gaze up at that empty skylight.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2013 10:04 pm

    reading this today.
    today, my soul needs your words and your sweet sweet sentiments….

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      October 30, 2013 11:10 pm

      it’s all about feelings, and we all feel things differently. someone once told me that feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just ARE. i’ve held onto that thought.

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