Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two for Tuesday, a Poem and Fingerwag

I love before and after shots. This isn't the beginning and the end, but two shots of Earth Day. We planted 9 Martha Gonzales roses and 3 Cecile Brunner's on a pergola that I designed for the back entrance of the Baptist church across the street from me. I moved into my Crestview Bungalow in '97 and watched 5 mature trees die and NOT be replaced and approached the church several times about replanting. They didn't have the interest, but I found one minister and he had one fellow, Melvin who were willing to work with me to help their space.

This shot is Earth Day '09, two months after we cleared and planted the tiny roses on Valentines Day. It was me, my husband Greg, my neighbor Regine and Melvin...Melvin's wife made coffee for us, it was a bitter cold morning!

Regine, another neighbor Susan and I spent 3 hours pruning, for the first time just after Valentines Day this year, and here are the mature roses on Earth Day '11.

The reason I'm focusing on this success story is that on April 9th, this year, the church decided to "clean-up" the garden. The minister that we'd worked with, long gone had been replaced by a fire and brimstone fellow, then another and Melvin had gone back to not talking to me because I don't share his beliefs. The only garden they have, outside the central beds that are not visible to the neighborhood, are the rose garden and the 17 trees I wrote a grant for and organized neighborhood volunteers to plant and care for, 3 years ago. No one spoke to me, even though many of the church members know who I am, and Melvin is still the grounds keeper.

With dull tools they systematically butchered 13 of the 17 trees, some with fruit and blossoms and topped 4 oaks. The oaks were strategically placed to relieve the heat island effect caused by the enormous parking lot and to cool the building like the mature trees they'd let go, and not replaced. A few of the trees were donated by neighbors, that they had nursed before and after planting that held sentimental meaning.

My two neighbors to the east, Regine and Dana and I have been caring for the trees, pruning when necessary, buying our own compost and watering for the obligatory 2 years as said by the TreeFolks contract. After we realized what had happened, we cried. We wrote letters to the new minister explaining the situation and he replied with an apology and a promise to repair, what they could, of the damage. I asked him to call me, said that I'd put together a packet of information about gardening practices but to please, immedately compost and deeply water the poor trees that had just lost their spring growth and to replace the oaks, now topped in the fall.

To date they have done nothing.

Thank goodness we were able to save the roses.

What is still puzzling to me is why? How can it be, in this day and age that anyone could not find "when to prune and how to prune" information within minutes on the computer? I am sickened everytime I walk out my front door, but am not surprised that the church is not keeping their word.

I leave you with one of my favorite poems by Joyce Kilmer printed in 1914.


I think that I shall never see

a poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest,

Against the earths sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robbins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

I hope your EarthDay was rewarding, there is much to do.


LeAnn said...

It sounds like that minister should also be working on repairing the damage those actions have brought to the community.

I'm sorry your hard work was for naught.

cat said...

oh cheryl....that is heart breaking! i'm so sorry..:( xoxxoxox

Mikael Behrens said...

That's so sad. So somehow the church had forgotten how special those plants and trees were to you and the neighborhood? Man, they've got a long way to go make it up to you guys, if they decide to try.

katina said...

The part I find funny is that the minister straight up lied. whether by action or by word (a sin of omission is still a sin). and it's just completely and sadly ironic.

So sorry about the trees. :(

Anonymous said...

How very sad. The Crestview Baptist Church should be ashamed. It's pathetic that nothing has been done, it makes me sad everytime I see the damaged trees. I wonder if they had the same people "prune" trees at their homes? Great post Cheryl, I am so sorry it was necessary.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl how bad are the trees? This is so very sad!

ConsciousGardener said...

Thanks ya'll, I do have photos of the damage but didn't take recent photos of how big the trees had gotten, so you can just see the gnawed off limbs and such. I'll do an update.

Sandra said...

I was in Olympia, Washington about two weeks ago at the WEA's Government Relations office. During a break in the meeting I was attending, a colleague (older white male) and I went in search of beverages and discovered a lumber yard in the back of the building. I looked out at the graveyard of trees and muttered, "How sad," to which my colleague replied, "It's not sad; they're trees, put here for our use." For a few seconds I engaged, pointing out that trees existed long before man and so on. Finally, though, I gave up and said as much to my colleague. His parting remark to me: "Trees don't have feelings," to which I replied, "Neither do white men." While I realize my statment was overly broad and, thus, unfair; it was not unfair to my colleague and it certainly applies here. I mean I'm not going too far out on a limb (no pun intended) when I assume your Baptist tree killers are white men, right? Anyway, sorry about your loss, Cheryl. Like people and animals, trees live, and they, too, deserve to be nurtured, respected, cherished, and protected from harm.

ConsciousGardener said...

Too funny! You're on the money...what can I say?