So, I awoke bleary eyed this morning after staying up until 2 in the morning watching the All-Star game (is the National League EVER going to win one of these things?!), only to be greeted for the 3rd day in a row by the sounds of destruction outside my bedroom window.
Our city is in the process of removing trees from the hillside behind our house.
Trees that have probably been there for over 100 years.
We live in an 1850’s farmhouse that was converted into a school in 1926 and now houses 4 faculty apartments for the school that now resides across the road.
Prior to 1926, this was farmland but given the steepness of the hill out back it was probably never cleared for planting.
So these are some old trees.
And in 3 days the city has reduced them to timber and sawdust.
All in the name of progress.
There’s a small municipal airport next door and the FAA has told them they can’t use their longest runway for large planes unless they make the approach ‘safer’ for the pilots. In other words, the trees are being sacrificed so the boys with the big toys can play in our neighborhood too.
The airport is primarily used by hobbyists.
Small bi-planes that take off on the weekend or are used as transportation during the week. In the past few years we’ve seen (and heard) more and more corporate jets.
And they’re getting bigger.
And to attract even more of these rich boy-toys to the city, along with the money they bring, the city has decided that several thousand acres of trees need to go.
Here's what they've done so far:
It used to be nestled in the woods, now it's surrounded by barren ground.
I heard the heart-wrenching sounds of destruction all day Monday but I couldn’t see where it was coming from. I was hoping that it was up the road or on the other side of the ridge. Yesterday the sounds got closer, and when I walked out of the house my heart dropped into my stomach. Our lush, green hillside had been stripped raw.
Gone are the majestic trees and all the wildlife that called those woods home.
The deer, the wild turkeys, the birds, the woodchucks, the squirrels.
The tree frogs who serenade us at dusk, just as they do every summer, fell silent last night.
I’m not against destruction for the sake of progress.
I know that we wouldn’t have schools, churches, hospitals, grocery stores, etc. unless land had been cleared to make way for them.
What I am opposed to is stupid destruction.
If the trees at the top of the ridge are causing problems for pilots, fine, trim them down.
Why did the entire hillside need to be stripped bare??
Even the small saplings, low bushes and underbrush growing on the slope closest to our house have been ripped out.
We have several large trees directly behind our house that they’ve left untouched (thank God) but they tower above everything that was on that lower slope. There was no reason to tear all of that underbrush out. Unless the planes plan on flying 10 ft off the ground it’s just pure stupidity. Destruction for the sake of destruction.
As I started out on my daily walk yesterday I saw the huge machines responsible for all the noise, pushing down 100 ft trees as if they were weeds. Men in hard hats stood around admiring their handiwork.
Meanwhile I was picking my way through beer cans and McDonalds trash that had been discarded in the grass at the side of the road, thrown from passing cars without a thought.
I just don’t understand the disconnect that exists in the minds of those who throw trash out windows and tear down trees just because they can.
It goes beyond self-centered arrogance; it comes from a lack of respect, a lack of connection, a lack of love and unbridled awe that one feels in the presence of the natural world.
It makes me sick to my stomach.
But it also makes me sad.
People who throw trash from windows and destroy entire ecosystems for the sake of unnecessary progress don’t know what it is they’re missing.
Have they ever watched the sunrise and felt joy?
Have they ever planted something and watched it grow?
Have they ever sat outside in the evening and listened to the peepers that signal the coming of spring?
Have they ever seen a waterfall? Climbed a mountain? Or walked a wooded path in the rain?
Have they ever had a moment where they looked out at the natural world and said, “God, that’s beautiful!”?
I doubt it.
If they had, they would never throw trash out of a window, or knock down a tree that didn’t need to be knocked down.
Please say a prayer for all the trees that died on our hillside this week, for the animals that lost their homes or didn’t get out in time when the machines came, for the people who fail to recognize the gift that God has given us in the form of creation, and the responsibility that we have as designated caretakers.
Go hug a tree today.
And while you’re at it, thank God for putting it there in the first place.
And pray that it will still be there tomorrow.