There was a tornado in Brooklyn a few weeks back that killed many trees in my favorite park. I've tried writing about this a few times with little success, because honestly it makes my heart hurt.
When I moved to my area I felt very nature deprived, as I imagine many city dwellers feel. I took solace in this park, walking in it, sitting on the grass, and eventually jogging, a "hobby" of mine that is very on and off. But regardless of how often I went to the park, life was better because I knew it was there. I knew that only a few blocks away was a place I could feel grass on my bare feet, a place I could stare up at towering trees and let their branches draw shadows on my face, and a place I could watch leaves sail through the air and get lost on a breeze.
And then the tornado came. Trees, huge trees, were pulled up from the ground, leaving their roots exposed like the intestines of a wounded soldier. Branches were broken, and trees that had once reached across the earth were now naked and nothing but a wooden pole. I don't mean to be overly dramatic, and I would never equate the death of a tree to that of a person, but the fact still remains, whenever I now walk past the park I smell the scent of death. So they shut it down.
They've been fixing the park for the past few weeks, slowly but surely, and they recently reopened it. I was hesitant to go back, but I decided to walk there yesterday, and I saw what I was expecting - Tree stumps. All around me were tree stumps, looking more like tombstones than anything else, and it made me want to cry. But instead I remained still, and then walked to where my favorite tree had once been, and I slowly sat on its stump, feeling very much like the old man from The Giving Tree. I stared all around me. There were no more branches to draw shadows on my face, and much of the grass was now covered in mulch. But in the distance I saw something that made me want to cry even more. People were planting trees. They were very tiny, not even big enough to sit under yet, but one day they would be.
I most likely will never see this park covered in towering trees again, but someone will, and that's enough to make me feel better. It's enough to turn the smell of death into life.