She was dying of disconnection and thirst. Literally.
She was one of the first things I noticed upon arriving at my new house in southwest Colorado.
Why had they let her die of thirst? Don’t people see her majesty? I wondered.
She’d been standing alone for decades, no doubt. Hard on aspen, who belong in groves. They’re meant to remain connected with their family through a complex underground root system.
One of the oldest known living organisms on the planet is Pando, a clonal colony borne of an individual male quaking aspen located on the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in south-central Utah. Roughly 300 miles west of this dying aspen.
Perhaps she was separated at birth from her native soil and root system by a developer’s desire for a sentry tree near the front door of my neighborhood home.
Who can know for sure why this lonesome aspen was asked to stand alone?
I tended her carefully upon meeting, though she’d been neglected long before I arrived. We released dead branches, watered and fertilized and did all the right things.
But she relented to the detachment from her community. Her aliveness diminished.
She’s still a beautiful depiction of her former self, though now her life force has withered.
Mostly, when I try to speak to her, she has simple requests.
“Tell them,” she suggests.
“See the scars of my fallen branches. My bare limbs without foliage.”
“Use me,” she instructs, though I am not certain whether my lone voice can speak for her grief, or for the grief I have for her loss.
I sense her solitude, the aloneness, and it reminds me of my own isolation.
We weep together for what we have become, trees and humans, cut off at the roots from our interconnectivity.
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