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    Homage To A Tree By Louise Applebome

    By Louise Applebome


    Sadly, violent storms have wreaked havoc on towns and communities across this country in recent months and years. My hometown of Dallas was in the crossfire on May 28, when strong winds and rain blew through. Emergency alerts on cell phones urged residents to take shelter at 5:30 a.m. as threats of tornadoes flashed on the radar. I’ve been through the drill before and remained quite cool, but perhaps because of some recent tragic deaths and devastation in Texas and neighboring Oklahoma, I found myself trembling this time while waiting out the storm in a prescribed interior closet in my house. 


    While in said closet, the power went out. At least my cell phone provided ample light. And once the tornado watch was downgraded to severe thunderstorms at about 6:15 a.m., I emerged from the closet ruing the reality of not being able to brew a cup of coffee. Power out…electric stove out. So, instead, I looked out the front window to survey the scene. Lo and behold one-third of a 100-year-old majestic red oak tree in my yard was sprawled across the entire street. Another third of the tree shrouded my yard. The remaining third was still standing but badly wounded. The trunk had shattered and given way. 


    My fight-or-flight instinct kicked in and I immediately called a guy who can build anything and fix anything, who has come to my rescue many times before, and as soon as the biggest dangers of the storms had passed, he gathered up a crew and was at my front door. That same morning the rescue and clean-up efforts were underway as soon as the rain and wind abated. 


    It’s nice to know and have access to heroes. 


    By late afternoon, peace and quiet had been restored to my home. I was without power for only about an hour. Hundreds of thousands lost power for days. 


    Still unknown was the diagnosis for the remaining section of the tree. Was it stable enough to stand on its own or would it have to be “put down?” Another hero of mine who has nurtured the majestic, stalwart oak trees in my yard for years arrived on that first day but, unfortunately, pronounced the tree unsalvageable and dangerous and said it must be removed. 


    It was time for the life of the tree to come to an end. 




    I was reminded just how fragile and precarious life is.


    One powerful straight-line wind and a 100-year-old life was snuffed out.


    Nothing lives forever.


    The tree arbiter sent out a crew two days later. Heroes, weightlifters, and elite athletes all. In under three hours, they performed death-defying acrobatic feats and cut down the tree. They cleaned up and as they drove off the skies opened up and the next round of storms blew through.  But only after their job was complete.


    This took “timing is everything” to a new level. 


    Granted, there are tree huggers and there are tree huggers. And as fond as I am of trees, I knew my grief and mourning would be manageable. 


    Mostly, I was jubilant that the tree hadn’t fallen on my house or any cars. Other than crushing a few privet shrubs in the front yard, its collapse didn’t do any significant damage. I’d say the gods were smiling down on me. I’d say it was a near miracle.


    Earlier in the spring, I had turned one of the shrubs into a topiary shaped like a heart. The heart got pummeled by the downed tree. I was moved by that symbolism and metaphor. But I know the privet will heal and thrive again. 


    So all my attention kept veering back in the direction of how lucky I was.


    Trees are precious. But I lost a tree.


    If one compares that to the death of a friend earlier in May at age 76 and still raring to conquer an ambitious to-do list over the next 20 years, it sort of puts things into perspective. This man left behind a very close-knit loving family…a wife, daughter, son, son-in-law, grandchild, and another on the way, a thriving business, and untold interests, goals, and good deeds yet to perform. He was not ready to die. Somehow that’s a much deeper loss than that of a tree, it seems to me.  Although I understand others would make an argument in favor of the tree’s demise being equally sad.


    I can’t underestimate the value of all the condolences and emotional support I received from everyone who learned about the loss of a Grand Dame of red oak trees. 


    And I can’t praise the crews, chainsaws in hand, anywhere near enough for their discipline, persistence, hard work, and drive to please and to do right by me. 


    So all of these best examples of good people doing the right thing far outweigh the disappointment of losing a tree.


    Yes, this is Dallas. It gets oppressively hot. That tree was my pride and joy and provided glorious shade.


    It was the prize tree on the whole block…maybe in the whole neighborhood. So it did yeoman’s work cooling off my house and my property for so many years in addition to being a beautiful sight to behold.  It needs to be counted amongst the heroes to whom I am grateful, too.


    The storm was on a Tuesday. I’m writing this two days later on a Thursday. And all is good and calm here at my home. 


    Truly, angels were looking down on me. 


    And now I go forward with life in a “new” home. The light, the view, and the temperature have all changed. The front garden is also brand new with the capacity to take on sun-loving (rather than shade-only) plants. I’m rather pleased with my quick response and decision-making up to this point and my ability to be the female iteration of “Johnny-on-the-spot.” Having a great cadre of capable responders also meant the world to me. 


    Now I think it’s time to move out of fight-or-flight mode and to step back and to slow down. 


    To exhale. 


    I didn’t have time to be terribly strategic in the midst of the crisis but I’d like to be discerning and thoughtful in the next phase of decision-making as life settles back down. There is no urgency to act. 


    Another plus: We “seasoned” humans need new experiences and obstacles to keep the brain neurons oiled and stimulated. I’m not sure that means quite this much drama, but I seem to have made it over the hump and I’ll take it. 




    Louise Applebome, 70, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Dallas. After “retiring” from a vibrant and varied professional career, she became a yoga teacher. She teaches all her classes on Zoom right now and accepts students, young or older, from wherever they are, both geographically and in their pursuit of a yoga practice. Louise will help you stay fit and flexible, and release tension, aches & pains from the body…and the mind. Her yoga studio in Dallas is del norte yoga. You can reach out to her at [email protected].