Tuesday, August 20, 2013
For it is a sort of unwritten but inexorable law in W——, as in fact it appears to be throughout New England, that no pine must ever be allowed to reach more than half its normal growth; so that my trees are certain to fall under the axe as soon as their present owner is out of the way. I am not much given to superstition. There are no longer any dryads, it is to be presumed; and if there were, it is not clear that they would be likely to take up with pines; but for all that, I cherish an almost affectionate regard for any trees with which I have become familiar. I have mourned the untimely fate of many; and now, seeing that I have been entrusted with the guardianship of these few, I hold myself under a kind of sacred obligation to live as long as possible, for their sakes.Id., "An Old Road," pp. 45-69 (at 67-68):
And yet, proudly and affectionately as I talk of it, Back Street is not what it once was. I have already mentioned the straightening, as also the widening, both of them sorry improvements. Furthermore, there was formerly a huge (as I remember it) and beautifully proportioned hemlock-tree, at which I used to gaze admiringly in the first years of my wandering hither. What millions of tiny cones hung from its pendulous branches! The magnificent creation should have been protected by legislative enactment, if necessary; but no, almost as long ago as I can remember, long before I attained to grammar-school dignities, the owner of the land (so he thought himself, no doubt) turned the tree into firewood. And worse yet, the stately pine grove that flourished across the way, with mossy bowlders underneath and a most delightsome density of shade,—this, too, like the patriarchal hemlock, has been cut off in the midst of its usefulness.
"Their very memory is fair and bright,Now there is nothing on the whole hillside but a thicket of young hard-wood trees (I would say deciduous, but in New England, alas, all trees are deciduous), through which my dog loves to prowl, but which warns me to keep the road. Such devastations are not to be prevented, I suppose, but at least there is no law against my bewailing them.
And my sad thoughts doth cheer!"