Nice title right? Just jumped into my head.
No, of course it didn’t just jump into my head. It’s the title of one of the only children’s books written about trees, and I have always been challenged by its message. In the story, we see one side giving and one side taking. We see an abusive relationship. When all the taking is done, we see what any such relationship leaves behind – the lowly stump of what was once a proud and vibrant being.
If you get me talking about nature, eventually you will learn I also once talked to the trees I was removing.. On the way up, as my climbing spikes first stabbed the trunk, I felt compelled to appreciate and apologize.
The quality of my family’s life in Richmond is improved by trees.
The home we live in is constructed with trees.
The river we love is protected by trees.
The air we breathe is enhanced by trees.
Trees are good.
And here I am about to take one down to a stump, and when I’m done another truck and machine will show up to grind even the stump and smooth the earth like the tree was never there.
“Sorry, buddy,” I say with a pat of my hands. “It’s not your day. I appreciate how you’ve grown, and what you’ve become, and I appreciate you letting me earn my living this way.”
Then what? Well, if the tree doesn’t drop me from its arms, I complete the removal and find myself with truckloads of woodchips and truckloads of wood.
Since removing trees is part of our occupation at Truetimber, we have always wanted to properly respect the fallen by making full use of each and every part of nature’s provision.
Our offshoot company, Riverside Outfitters, turns some of the wood into heating fuel. The energy the tree spent years storing is released in the same way it was received – as heat and light.
We share woodchips from our work with those who ask. Hopefully these are being spread on the ground all over Richmond to replenish the soil.
Most recently, we have placed a wood mill in operation so we can pay the ultimate compliment to a fallen or removed tree. Our offshoot company “Truetimber Backyard” builds beautiful structures and furniture from the wood.
Like the man in the complicated children’s book, we use what nature provides. But then, full of gratitude and with proper respect, we write the missing last page to that haunting tale:
Then the old man said, ‘Thank You, Tree.”
He shared his love of and appreciation of nature with children, and he tried to help his own city appreciate and enjoy its natural environment…
Sitting on his stump, the old man reached into his pocket, took out a handful of seeds, and with a final give to balance the take, he tossed them into the wind.
And the tree was really, really happy.