Jane Smith of Cheshire, England, writes about an act of mourning and beauty that she did for a beloved old oak tree... and how her action has inspired another anonymous person or people to keep the momentum going:
Two years ago, on the day of our annual village music festival-the day when the whole village turns out in our local park to listen to bands from the area-I started receiving messages from friends and strangers alike that an old oak tree on a local road, which had the misfortune to be standing where a residential property developer wanted to build a cul-de-sac into their new housing estate, was being chopped down.
I rushed to the scene only to find them just having finished the job, the magnificent veteran tree now a large stump.
I felt I personally needed some way to express my grief at the unnecessary loss of one of our village's beautiful oak trees. The same night, I cut some thick black ribbon and cycled over to the tree stump in darkness to wrap the ribbon around the tree, a token of mourning and grief for a living thing that had meant something to me and to others. The following day, I returned with some words from William Blake painted onto card and weather-proofed:
The tree which moves some to tears of joy,
Is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
The ribbon and quote were removed by the time I passed the site the following day, which I'd expected really because the construction workers were still working there. I imagined that was the end of it. But then to my surprise, a few days later I was cycling past and saw that a new black ribbon had appeared around the tree stump. Again it was removed, then again a new ribbon put in its place, and this has continued off and on for almost a full two years now.
I'm not sure who else is placing the ribbon, but I'm glad they are, and it makes me feel that marking my own grief publicly (although anonymously) perhaps gave other people permission to express their anger and sadness too.
Since then, we've incorporated the site of the tree into our Earth Exchange Day gathering in the village, walking out to it from a currently threatened open-field space.
I think at the end of the day, in its own way, an oak tree is actually priceless-and the shared ribbon ritual leads me to believe that other people think so too.