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When Trees Lose to Water

Just past the turn off from Highway 22 coming into Union City, Tenn. now lies the remains of a giant. Its death took place on Highway 123 between Union City Tennessee and Cayce, Kentucky ( population 128).

The death is of a mystic 100 year old giant tree, some 4 feet in diameter. The body is bordered on the western side a few feet from Highway 123. Hour after hour, trucks of all sizes, shapes and a constant parade of cars create vibrations. They may be faint vibrations, nevertheless, the slight movement reaches out toward the ground and root structure of the great tree. In her prime the tree must have stood 60 feet tall with a canopy of 40 feet.

Gone are the times of an earlier world when the tree was young. An asphalt strip has torn through her sphere of dominance. Giant blades of strange yellow machines had ripped apart the tree's world.

Gone are the days of birds and squirrels that played in her branches. For years now, the tree has stood her ground against the world of man.

No longer supreme mistress of a rolling hill, the old tree still had plenty of spirit left in her. If you were to close your eyes and picture the last fight for life that spilled out over this small hillside, one could almost feel the harsh struggles of the tree to exist in nature.

The final blow struck, like an avenging sword in an ancient arena of the heroes and gladiators, by wind and water, acting in concert to destroy.

She held on to life, at first through her root system. Then a furious gust of wind tore at and attacked her canopy. The branches, leaves, and mighty frame now were transformed into a huge sail against the wind.

At first, the tree stood its ground. The deciding final blow came when the roots no longer were shielded by the soil of the ground. The rain had been brutal. Blow after blow struck wood and dirt with equal ferociously.

The end came to her quickly.

With dying roots no longer able to hold on, she collapsed. At that precise moment, the last powerful blow was the wind lifting the tree out of the ground. If trees could dream, maybe her last thoughts were that sweet rain had always given her life. Now it was time for the rain to complete the cycle of life and take it away.

Later the next day, traffic came back. Scores of trucks, of all sizes and shapes roared past this scene of epic fight. Cars followed. Man's world was coming back into normal focus.

Now atop this small rolling hill on the road to Cayce, Kentucky were the fallen remains of roots, dirt, branches. Each at its own speed and natural clock, dying and returning to the soil.

The speed of man's life allows no time of mourning for the demise of yet another old tree. In the haste to contour the land for new roads, the future can be summed up with one simple word.


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