This weekend some old friends had to leave us. Since I’ve lived here, I saw them everyday, their arms bending in the wind, sometimes laden with heavy snow, always a deep dark shadow in the clear night. Their rings told me they were 70 + years. They towered into the sky and gave shade and protection to many wildlife. I remember in 2015 watching a young bear come prancing out from behind one of them, his nose sniffing and ears alert.
He leaned against the trunk, like a man leaning against a lamp post. Home to many birds and squirrels, we’d watched their bottom limbs become withered and scraggly. It seemed unfair to let them face a slow decline. One had begun to lean towards the East. I went back to Australia for a year and on my return, it looked as though it had moved further Eastward. On stormy days, I would look warily to see if it would come crashing down towards the cabin. The space they’ve left has provided a welcome light for young spruce to grow. But I know I’ll miss them. Their statuesque height, distinctive smell, protective boughs. They were the first to greet me when I was a stranger on this land.