I used to have a favorite tree. It was a centuries-old beech tree, standing free on a small meadow, separated from the groves to its sides.
It was a glorious tree, with a mighty crown and heavy branches strong and thin enough to allow children to hoist themselves up. Higher still, four trunks reached into the sky. But not without offering the climber a place to rest, like the palm of a wooden hand. “The Old Beech” as we called it, “Die Alte Buche” was not one but four trees, siblings sharing not only water, ground, and parasites, but even a common gown of bark.
A few years ago, a developer bought the area around it. It’s close to my parent’s house and there was much curiosity and some concern about what would happen to the woods and lines of sight. The beech stood under nature protection though, so it would stay and the developers had to make place for it with a small “park” around.
There won’t be a park anymore. In February 2022, the old beech faced its last storm that took one of the four siblings. Briefly thereafter, chainsaws came for the other three. It saddens me still. But I am grateful I was visiting during that time, that I was able to say goodbye on my terms.