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1/25/2002
04:55 PM
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Thought Bubbles

Pain blossoms as family tree is uprooted.

With billions of trees in the world, excuse me for a moment while I wax nostalgic over just one.

A part of my life was taken from me recently. The big tree in front of my parents' house was cut down because it was dying.

Sure, it's just one tree, one of thousands in Park Ridge, Ill., the town where I grew up and which boasts "Tree City USA" on its welcome signs. But this was our tree, the tree around which I cut the grass hundreds of times, the tree in which we tried to climb as kids, the reference point in giving directions to our house--"Turn left onto Merrill Avenue, and it's the first big tree on the right."

It was always there for us, standing watch over our home as we left, waiting stoically for us upon our return.

The initial news was shocking. But the reality is worse, particularly at sundown: The massive branches and husky trunk that once shielded the house from the sun are gone, painting it in an unsettling light.

The city will replace the tree come summer (don't want to jeopardize "Tree City" status), but with an interloping wimpy tree. Might as well stick a broom in the ground. It'll be like losing your dressing room and having to change behind beach towels.

I thought I was alone in my despair, but upon telling my mom, she callously said: "Oh! You and your brother and that tree. He was out here yesterday taking photos." I protested, "You aren't going to miss the tree?"

"It was nothing but trouble," she said. "The roots are always clogging the sewers and we have to call the plumber. A branch once fell, damaging the roof. I'm not going to miss it!" That makes one of us.

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