I am a tree. Or, I was. My beautiful branches held the most glorious leaves that would wave in the warm breeze on a summer day. I have been shade for homework-doers and have been climbed by adventurers. I would smile as I watch students walking to and from classes. I watched them grow and change to be the men and women that were needed in the world, beyond here. In the fall, my leaves would turn brilliant colors and students would walk on the sidewalk under me, crunching my leaves. My bare branches held sparkling snow in the winter or some ice that would glimmer. My branches were big and strong and beautiful. Squirrels run to and climb me, birds rest in my branches. I have gotten to watch generations of students come and go. I am a tree on the campus of Augustana College, SD.
Everything changed with the coming of the icepocalypse. The weather started out like any normal, April day. It began to rain when all the students were asleep. I like rain. Tomorrow, the sun might be out, and students would smile up at me like they sometimes would do. The rain wasn’t snow, and spring was here at last. And then, the rain became ice pellets. The ice clung to my branches. It is very pretty when this happens, but it can sometimes be a heavy hassle. But it is worth the it when students “ooo” and “ahh” over the way the ice glistens in the daylight. The ice came down harder and it became heavier and heavier. My branches grew weary and the ice thickened. Soon, the ice easily doubled in size of the smaller branches, and it was so heavy. I couldn’t hold up my branches anymore. I looked around and saw other trees having the same problems. I watched in horror as a branch fell from a tree across campus, and I knew then that some of these desperately heavy branches of mine would have the same fate. As the day progressed, I sagged toward the ground. Students still looked up at me, but instead of smiles on their faces admiring the beauty, the faces held concern and worry that my branches would hold the fate of others. And it happened. A branch fell. I groaned as the branch detached, and the sound of rushing water and ice hit the sidewalk beneath me. I closed my eyes, concentrating on holding my branches up, but it was so hard. Pictures were taken of me, lots of pictures. Being in a central area, this happened often. But the pictures being sent to social media sites, family, and friends were no longer pictures admiring my beauty. Who am I, that I should be brought down and destroyed in a single day? Who will I be without my branches and my fine figure of a tree? Sagging, slumping, but still standing as tall as I can. I closed my eyes. What will happen to the squirrels who ran to me, just yesterday? What about the robins that had already begun their spring? Who will forget this day? It will take time for me to heal, but I know it’s possible. My trunk is tilted, my branches cracked. But what is time? I am a tree.
This post was written in memory of all of the beautiful trees in Sioux Falls, SD, especially the ones that stood on my campus. — Anna