09 September 2007

From ash to ash

Arizona ash is a wayward stranger, an invader, an immigrant. Some people find it ugly, cheap. It was brought here from its native land by people who meant well. They wanted a tree that would grow fast, shading the asphalt and homes from the scorching Texas sun. Fast and cheap. The Arizona ash joined its native cousins here in Texas, brought together by the hand of man from a separation that had endured evolutionary time and great geographic distance.

I've never really liked the bushy crazy looking Arizona ash in our front yard, even though most people would have thought it perfectly fine. You see, I know that it doesn't belong here. The tree has received the bad end of my tree bigotry. Since moving here, I've always secretly plotted to get rid of it.

But the ash was planted here, probably 30-40 years ago, by a fellow homeowner who meant well. And now, long after that inhabitant and several more are gone (a house, and a yard, you see, have deep history) the ash now grows tall and heavy, burdened with winged seeds and the weight of time and growth. It shades the street. The Mexican family who used to rent the house next door needed our tree to protect their cars from the beating sun. They would spend hours protected in the ash's shade in the street in front of our house working on their cars.

And now, the ash has had a trim. A prune. A lift here, a tuck there. I can now see the ash better for what it is, and what it always could've been. In order to grow, thrive and achieve some semblance of beauty--however imperfect--our ash needed to lose the things that were weighing it down.

Like humans, it needed to shed a few of its burdens to shine.

For now, I think we'll keep it. This great immigrant from afar. It will seed the land with it's progeny, however it pains me. But it does as we have done, so who am I to judge this great being, here long before me, and perhaps, long after I'm gone...


toby said...

Ahh, Arizona Ash from my homeland far across New Mexico. Ok so not that far. However it is nice to see it growing quite well here in Austin despite the immigrant background. Now all we need are a few Ocatillo, Saguaro, Palo Verde, and some Gila monsters and we'll be set!

Pam/Digging said...

It won't be here long after you're gone. They aren't that long-lived---only about 30 years according to our arborist. But if it's healthy, I can see making peace with it.

We had to remove an old, declining A. ash when we moved into this house, and I never regretted it, though our neighbors were shocked.