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Last word on war on trees
On nature
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Out jogging this morning, I noticed as I passed our country cemetery that a tree was missing from the head of my grandparents’ graves.
It had been a small tree, less than 8 inches in diameter, but very old. It was a sassafras, one of my grandfather’s favorites. Arthur Branch died when I was a child and I am now 46, and the sassafras tree was at his grave when he died.
Now it’s gone.
Was it cut so the groundskeeper wouldn’t have leaves to rake? Or to make room for a grave? Because somebody thought it was ugly?
In my 46 years, I have been forced to watch massive violence against trees. In this world, if you’re a tree, you’re in a war, a long and deadly war. Except there’s no way you can run when someone comes at you with a chainsaw or an axe. You have to go down, dead.
In my short life, the U.S. fully embraced clearcutting, and we have watched our forests get axed and turned into the “tree farms” I despise. During the past five years, almost every piece of forest around the farm where I live has been cut. My neighbor to the south is logging his 15 acres as I write these words.
We’re not just obliterating large forests, we’re cutting the scraps too. We’re cutting strips between properties, trees along fencelines, vegetation along creeks. My word, we’re cutting the few trees in our yards.
Are we trying to level everything? Are we trying to live on a plain, or in a desert?
Or do we think we’re God? Did we create the miracle of an acorn? Did we breathe life in the seed? Did we water it from the heavens? What gives someone — maybe you reading this — the right to destroy God’s Creation? Answer me that.
I believe that just as children must be taught hatred toward other humans, they also must be taught not to care about trees. Maybe I refused to learn that deplorable lesson, because when a tree gets cut I feel the pain in every nerve ending in my body.
Eagerly we blame global warming on vehicles (and we should) but we forget that tree-cutting is just as responsible. Why aren’t timber companies being held accountable?
Let me give you a little refresher course on trees. Trees supply you the very oxygen you breathe — they don’t want you to get lung cancer. Trees store carbon dioxide. Trees provide you shade from the burning sun. Trees prevent skin cancer. Trees give you nuts and rubber and fruit. Trees built almost everything in your house. Most trees have lifespans five times longer than yours.
Take a good look around and see what you’re doing and stop it. Stop cutting down God’s trees of life.

Ray is the author of “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” and other books. She may be reached at
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