I live in the woods, but there’s enough of a clearing around my little house to let in some sunshine, so flowers and shrubs can grow. Only three trees occupy the clearing: an oak in front and a maple and an ash out back. The ash stands closest to the house, by the screened porch and outside my kitchen window. I’ve appreciated this closeness. For the nearly twenty years I’ve lived here, the ash has been a good companion.
Goldfinches have filled the ash tree’s fine spring foliage, their bright breasts flashing, in fluttery shows of hops, lopes, and leaps. Squirrels have raced along its limbs. My kids have sprawled under its canopy. My dog Mocha, watching the furry and feathered creatures that regularly visit this tree, has enjoyed endless reasons to bark. Waking up on a winter’s day, I’ve judged the nighttime accumulation according to how much snow sits on its branches. And on a summer’s evening, the ash has kept the porch cool, its foliage filtering the late light and casting shifting shadows across the screens.
But this particular summer, the tree makes me sad, sad, sad. Almost as soon as it formed leaves, it began to shed them. What little foliage now remains has browned on the branches, a discordant changing, brittle and frail. It’s strange to see an autumnal ash in July, when everything else is lush with vibrant greens and colorful blooms. The tree’s trunk looks riveted; some of its bark, stripped, sickly. The ash is dying.
All the ashes are dying. [Read more…] about Ashes