The Giving Trees

Many years ago I committed murder. I harvested eight acres of loblolly pines. Listening to the trees crash to the ground was horrifying. My lovely woods. Gone in a day or two. My love of the woods and the old trees was steadfast, and my desire to preserve the land was serious. The commitment to the land, however, paralleled my interest in writing and my effort in that was just beginning. I had taken courses in creative writing at Salisbury University, Johns Hopkins University and Bennington, and once the door to my inner world was opened, it wouldn’t be closed. I needed to reach further afield. I wanted to get my MFA at Vermont College where there was a low residency writing program, but I didn’t have the money for the tuition. My financial advisor at the time, Greg Romaine who has since passed on and for whose advice I will ever be grateful, suggested selling the trees.
I hesitated. I couldn’t bear the thought at first, but finally gave in to a longing I’d carried for most of my life. The trees came down, the tuition paid for, and the real work and struggle to write began. I’m not sorry. It was the best thing I ever did for myself.
A few years later, I planted 3,000 trees on the remaining 18 acres which was formally a field –Elizabeth’s, as a matter of fact. Now there are loblolly, red bud, dogwood, white pine, chestnut, white oak and river birch which are nearing the growth of the ones harvested. They will be preserved as they are part of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. As I walk the paths through the woods, I hope my sins are forgiven.

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