The Plum Trees (Yet Another Lesson in Letting Go)

Let me start by saying that I love trees. There is nothing that would make me cut down a tree.


We had three plum trees along our side fence. About ten feet high, they were planted by the previous owners and I loved looking at the white bark and the deep purple-red leaves. Beyond that they didn’t have many redeeming features. They weren’t the flowering plum trees that bloom in the spring, and the plums themselves were usually too sour to eat. And the trees made a mess. Every gust of wind, and even a small breeze, would knock the fruit onto the ground. The yellow jackets swarmed the sweet fruit, the sticky skin got stuck on shoes and tracked into the house, and the small yellow pits littered the bricks. But I overlooked these small details. They were trees and you don’t just cut down trees.

But then we got a small dog—as in 15 pounds small. And it turns out this small dog loves to eat plums for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without going into detail you can imagine what happens when a dog eat plums. And when I mentioned this food group to the vet, he paused and mentioned that the pits could get trapped in her intestines. So nothing could make me cut down a tree other than my dog requiring $5,000 stomach surgery. The trees had to go.

But I couldn’t bear it. I hesitated, I resisted, I postponed. I tried to distract the dog with meat bones. I was scared: what if it’s too sunny? what if our view will suddenly be the neighbor’s crazy electrical wires? Because once they’re gone, they’re gone. We’re not airlifting in any mature trees.

I thought I was past this, I thought I didn’t need any more lessons in letting go. I had let go of so much since I was diagnosed with cancer, literally and figuratively. I felt like I was changing, adapting, shedding skins left and right. I lecture my kids about the importance of adapting and embracing change. I thought I was the master of letting life unfold. I was maybe a little proud of myself at the zen I cultivated.

Apparently I was wrong.

The day came when the tree guys showed up and through the window, with my eyes squinted half-shut, I watched the plum trees come down limb by limb. I heard the truck drive away and I stepped outside. I looked up to a view of a hill I hadn’t noticed before, that I didn’t know existed behind those trees. The sticky mess was gone. The dog’s digestive track has returned to normal. It was ok. Actually, it was fantastic.

I faced the fear and uncertainty and forged ahead. Just don’t ask me to cut down my olive tree.



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