Ever since I've started walking (instead of driving), I have come to appreciate trees. I used to climb them as a child but I don't remember THINKING about them...if there were no more trees to climb, I would have done something else instead (like read the books that the trees were cut down for).
But now I see them differently. During these increasingly hot summers, a tree-lined road is a blessing. They also serve as windbreaks, and homes for birds and squirrels, and they're beautiful things: they make a sound, they have a complexity, they have a visual softness. The big ones are older than you and I, and they're still going strong...strong enough to rip up our sidewalks and tear down our phone lines when they die and fall.
And yet, every major construction project in Waterloo has involved what appears to be a blithe disregard for trees. Many of the old trees on the west side of King street have been removed to make way for Uptown development, the Bauer Lofts destroyed some really beautiful foliage, and Waterloo's upgrading of the sewage system around the University resulted in the destruction of (probably) hundreds of trees. These places are bare now; the wind blows too strongly, the sun is too bright, and the animals...?
Maybe those trees were dying or something. Maybe, if construction companies were required to somehow protect the trees, they would just refuse to do these worthwhile projects. Or maybe it's laziness, short-sightedness, and indifference...I think it's the latter.
Whenever ten trees are cut down, developers see it in their hearts to plant a single sapling. That's at least SOMETHING, and it's heartening to see these little trees grow every year. But then...
...some drunken yahoo comes along and kicks them down. There is a special place in hell for these scumbags, and I imagine that place is full of nubile saplings, and full of girls who they want to impress, but when they kick the saplings they accidentally vomit instead. Sadly, life is not hell, and over the past month many of the saplings along King Street -- ones that had been growing for five years or so and were ALMOST strong enough to withstand a kick -- have been broken in two and their corpses removed.
Every day now, I walk past half a dozen little piles of sawdust where the saplings used to be. The City probably won't bother planting more. Strong, living things were killed for no reason whatsoever, and the future will be very hot indeed. This is sad. I HATE people who kick down saplings.
Are you SURE life isn't hell?
I've been trying to distill "what life is" for quite a while, but I think Concrete Blonde's song "Take Me Home" sums it up:
"Life is beautiful and terrible and strange."
But a sad place for urban saplings, that's for sure.
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