I was always taught that all things are born and the destined to die. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where the death of something made me overly sad. I have had to question but only one death in my life and that was my fathers’. As I found out late yesterday afternoon when arriving home after picking my son up from a friends is I should have cut a certain old giant down many years ago. I could never bring myself to cutting it down tho, it has grown, thrived, and survived in that very spot for who knows how long. It has weathered countless storms and the severity of the weather here in southeast Texas. Sure, it had seen better days and wasn’t exactly the straightest tree, but for all I knew it was a healthy strong tree. I have no idea what kind of tree it is or why it fell. I just know it fell because it was it’s time to fall. Unfortunately I can’t leave this old tree where it fell since it fell onto my driveway and has made it somewhat impassable. So, after a 10 hour day at work I get to go back to work. I know, I could be like most people and just call someone to come take care of it for me, but that isn’t how I’m wired. My neighbors would have called someone and paid them dearly for a tree removal service. Or, in a worse case scenario, they would just call me. So, I have to call “me” to get my ass in gear and get this tree out of the front yard. Of course, my son is very excited, there will be chainsaws and a tractor fired up very soon, he has a very excited look on his face.
After looking at what I needed to do we set of for the shop to get the chainsaws and the tractor. After getting everything gassed up we loaded it all in the bucket of the tractor and then went inside to change clothes. I began walking and told my son to meet me out front with the tractor. I was thinking to myself I am glad he likes to do the kinds of things I like to do. Many kids would have been happy to be left alone to waste their time sitting on the couch melting their brains in front of the television. When we made it to the tree I realized we forgot one very important piece of equipment, the chain. We must have chain. I sent him back to the shop to fetch it and I began my initial cuts. When he returned we hooked up the base and finished yanking it out of the ground. Good thing it was rotten or we could have been there a while, but it snapped right out of the ground. It took us a couple of hours to get everything cut up, loaded up, and moved to the back of the property. We made a very nice pile and I was convinced to go ahead and burn it. After putting everything away and cleaning up a bit we went out to the pile to set it on fire. By now it is well after dark and it would seem to me it is going to be a very late night for myself since I have to have it burned out before I can walk away. Either that or get my tractor back out and bury it altogether. That just creates double work, we will let it burn.
A flick of the Zippo to the tinder and newspapers and we were burning. It took a bit for the green wood to get going but then we had a very hot fire. Standing there I found myself whispering, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust………………………….ah fuck it burn bitch burn”. My son turned to me and said that was a funny little prayer. Except I wasn’t praying and he knows it which is why he made his version of a joke. I sent him in to go get in bed about midnight since most of the fire had burned out but it was still going strong enough to warrant me staying up a while longer. My wife showed up. I watched her slinking across the yard from the deck where she had been watching me. She showed up bearing gifts for me, a new pack of cigarettes and a giant mug of ice water. She also had my medicine in her hand and insisted I take it since it was so late. She always is thinking about my health. Or, she doesn’t want me to keel over anytime soon. Either or I suppose. She hung out for a little while, sitting next to me in the lawn chairs, holding my hand, almost as like she had something to say but never did. Soon enough she wandered back to the house, leaving me alone with the fire once more. I enjoy watching the fire when I am burning branches and debris. I had to explain to my son once that I don’t like sending things mother nature has provided to the landfill. It will all rot away one day but in such a disgrace. Whereas when I burn it I return it back to the soil and back to nature. I know, sounds silly. I let that fire burn out completely down until there were only embers barely glowing. I went ahead and shoveled on some dirt to snuff it out for the night. Then I headed in to the house because I was stinking real bad and wanted to grab a shower before heading to bed. I stopped in the kitchen to put my mug in the sink and there was a plate with my dinner sitting on the counter. There was a small note which read, “I figured you were hungry. Please rinse your plate when you are finished. Please take a shower. Wake me up when you crawl into bed if you want to, I won’t mind”. I ate, I rinsed my plate, I showered, and I crawled into bed. I didn’t disturb her since I knew we would both be up in a few short hours. I realized for the one millionth time that there isn’t jackshit on the television at three in the morning so I had a good excuse to close my eyes.