I am not one to get all mushy over a dying tree. Troubled, irritated, inconvenienced? Yes. Overwrought and saccharine? Nope.
For three years after we took guardianship of this land called Windcliff in 2000, we spent our weekends descrying the play of light and patterns of wind on this property. Over time, we agreed upon the orientation of the expanded house as well as the invitation into the house- the front door- the one decision that never seems to receive sufficient contemplation in our culture.
In an attempt to keep intact the pneuma of its original gardeners, Peg West and Mary Stech, we knew we would keep signatures from the original landscape to embrace our new home. Due to the logistics of construction, exactly which ones would or could remain was undetermined.
During late October of 2001, upon my arrival home from an extended stay in Asia, we packed our dogs and assorted foodstuffs for another weekend respite to our once and future home. During that weekend, we witnessed an entire family of pileated woodpeckers ravishing the succulent red fruit of a multi-stemmed specimen of the Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, rising to nearly 45′, slightly west of the existing home. The entire framework of this tree was lavished by lime-green lichen while its lingering foliage still held tints of orange/red. It was, however, its height, balance and foist upon the land that dictated a consideration of this tree as a point of convergence into our yet undesigned home. If not the decision itself, at least the seeds of one were harvested that weekend.
Soon enough realizing its significance as ‘point of departure’, I moved the memorial stone of our still-mourned canine companion, Emerson, to the shade of its branches. Using the tree as signal and sentinel, we signed off on the exact placement of the front door of our new home. The dogwood would assuredly welcome our guests for as long as we would live here. [Read more…]