By Ona Sachs
Last evening shortly after we got home the massive 150-year old maple tree that lived just outside our kitchen door fell crashing over in the windstorm. Grateful are we that it fell towards the road rather than on the house. It was very vibrant -- alive and tall and abundantly full of green leaves and birds and squirrels and many many branches. Sometime in the 1930s this tree was struck by lightning and the folks put it together again with an iron chain around it.
One part had fallen off against the house a few years ago. For the 20 years that we've been here it had a large hole in the trunk about five feet up - that is where it snapped - and many creatures lived there. On its way down the force of the snap sheared off about 12 feet of the top portion of a pine tree and also many huge branches of another maple nearby.
It is shocking to see this tree fallen, yet still so completely filled with life. As I approached its massive trunk this morning, it felt so thoroughly untamed and wild, so familiar and yet so foreign. Lying prone as it was, the high up branches and leaves are now so near; those parts I never could touch before are right there where I can put my hands on them.
The tree's presence is raw, completely untamed; it feels other-than-human, it exudes a kind of wild life force that is day to day so unfamiliar so unbridled yet close up is so powerful and instinctual.
I am reminded of that unnameable energy when you encounter a large wild animal. A moose, or maybe a bear. Looking at the tree, I can see a whole group of animals lying prone across the yard, their life force slowly exiting.
The huge scale of this tree’s private inner ecosystem and workings are revealed for all to feel, to see, to witness. The birds are hopping and flitting all over the trunk and branches, especially the blue jays --they are screaming.
Everything here seems altered by its fall. In my body I feel the trembling of great shock. Nothing is as it was. There is a large opening between house and pasture where once the tree made a screen, provided shade and mass. A guardian is down. She is one who witnessed much abuse and trauma here in this house on this land, before we were here. The tree is down, and yet it is still so alive. I honor this Tree Being who is still here, so palpably, yet her body lies across the earth.
Ona Sachs lives lives in rural New York state where she has a shamanic healing practice. She feels very fortunate to steward a beautiful piece of the earth.