It had stood silently for, . . oh, say eighty years or close to it. Trees don’t count, and we here in Rochester will probably never know. In eight long decades, it had provided branches on which birds might nest, nuts upon which squirrels might make their winter rations and roots that tilled the earth.
Wonder what you see when you stand in one place for that long? Countless generations of countless animals, including year after year of new children in the school that ringed ’round that old tree. Children that were there a few years, moved on, and came back a few years later with more kids.
And in all that time, all those children probably looked pretty much the same to the tree. Oh, there were some that were allowed to sit under its branches and some that were not, but if there was a defining reason for that division, it must have been lost on the tree. Shade was just one more thing it gave the world, and it didn’t choose where and on what creatures that shade would alight. The tree just kept on doing its multi-decade thing, standing silently and permanently, growing in its imperceptible way, hanging its fruits from its branches in the fall.
Then one day, some of the children decided to hang something from the tree themselves. A bit of rope was all it was. In all those decades, untold thousands of birds hand hung their nests without incident. Some squirrels, too, if other trees are any indication. A couple pieces of rope were nothing all that unusual or disturbing to a tree, certainly.
But they were to the children. And they were to many other humans. And suddenly, there was a lot of anger and a lot of hostility around the tree of which the tree was most likely, once again, blissfully unaware and unconcerned. But the people kept coming, shouting, and marching.
And while the tree might not have noticed – while the tree would almost certainly have been perfectly fine with letting this latest concern of humans pass unnoticed, continuing for decades more to provide for its corner of the world as it had for so very long – the humans could not let this pass. They had to address the problem that the rope had caused.
There were lots of things that those ropes had brought out among the humans. Differences, anger, hostility. There were many issues that could perhaps have been resolved, but they must have seemed complicated to human kind. Too complicated, it seems, and too long in coming. Something simpler and more symbolic must have been needed. Some small, meaningless sacrifice in hopes of calming the coming storm.
And so they cut “the White Tree” down.
The marchers included fathers carrying children on their shoulders, infants in strollers and old people in wheelchairs. Their rally point was the spot where the noose-bearing tree once stood. The tree has since been cut down by local authorities.