I walked out of the District Centre the other day and was astonished at the brightness of the day. It was as if the sky had opened its windows and let in heaven’s light for the first time. And then I saw. Trees had been cut; the foliage was gone and, indeed, the sky was open to my eyes.
Sadly, real light is not as easily turned on. The light of truth about differing perspectives; the light of wisdom to deal with conflicting views; the light of knowledge of the details of circumstances; the light of understanding of the needs and feelings of people; the light of comprehension of the incomprehensible.
And, we do the best we can do with the information we have – at least we tell ourselves that we do the best we can do. And that seems to make us human. But I’ve seldom encountered a human who would actually admit doing best he or she can do. Not even the Mayor.
However, it’s the sky light that is pouring into my environment that is opening my eyes. I didn’t realize the day could be so bright. Looking from my office window through an obstruction-free line of sight, the southern mountains stand out in all their magnificence. For the time being, which is all the time I have, I love the view.
Not that I don’t love the trees and the serenity they provided. I do. I do love the trees! I guess that should be rephrased: I did love the trees but since their departure I have to revel in the light. Yes, it might take a while to accustom ourselves to the change. This change happened so fast it startled me! The coming change will take longer. Indeed, I don’t expect to be here when the full glory of the trees to be transplanted is filtering the afternoon sun.
But that’s the nature of the tree. Unlike the radish, the tree doesn’t stand up to full stature in a few weeks. And the radish, unlike the tree, does not inspire us with the same degree of awe and wonder.
And so in our forests. Our trees are limited by mortality. If the beetles don’t get them, old age will – eventually. But regrowth will occur. Experience has so demonstrated. In my own private woodland the pines are mostly gone, victim of the pesky beetle but a new forest is already well established, spontaneously (meaning without my intervention) springing out of the soil. Not pines for this iteration of the woody growth, but white spruce with wide-spreading limbs.
As with the trees soon to be established along our boulevard, I cannot expect to witness their mature glory so I have to take pleasure in the symmetry, color, and texture they add to my landscape as they reach for the light of heaven.
Once upon a time our boulevard had no trees. Then it had trees. I remember when they were transplanted and I also remember the opposition expressed to the obstruction they would cause. The opposition was forgotten and we enjoyed their beauty for several decades. Then mortality set in. The old trees are now being replaced by a new variety with a longer lifespan.
Of course I am sad to see them go even if the light is pouring in. I feel the pain. But, like me, the old have to go to make room for the new and life goes on.
Merlin Nichols - Mayor of Chetwynd