The fertile forests of Yosemite National Park in California, which we had camped in the night before, had given way to the dry, rocky land of Nevada, and our minivan sped on in a land where cities and towns are few and far between. We were on the final week of our three-week western road trip. It had all been so beautiful, but here, in this empty, dry land a sense of dread lay heavy on my chest. The desert went on for miles before us and behind us. Rocks rose occasionally into mountains and cliffs in the distance, but their barrenness only added to the bleakness of the path we had to take. And everything seemed closer on the horizon than it actually was, making each mile seem longer.
This family road trip was the first time I had experienced the desert, and what surprised me the most was the amount of life, life adapted to the environment, that struggled on even in this most desolate of climates.
Read more at the National Catholic Register…
‘They’ve cut it down!’ cried Sam. ‘They’ve cut down the Party Tree!’ He pointed to where the tree had stood under which Bilbo had made his Farewell Speech. It was lying lopped and dead in the field. As if this was the last straw Sam burst into tears. (J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King)
It began in the morning. I was instructing my daughter in adding multiples of ten to two digit numbers. The younger children were running in and out of our kitchen nook where we were working. The nook gives a full view of our backyard and the neighbors’ trees towering above their privacy fence. And then I saw the cherry picker going towards the 50-year-old maple tree in our next door neighbor’s backyard. They had trimmed it back severely last autumn. It was a beautiful old maple tree, providing cool shade and beautiful yellow leaves in the fall. The tree trimmer began to take all of the budding branches off one of the big branches. I could not stand the tension. I closed the blinds, and made another cup of coffee. There was no way that I could teach my daughter and watch the destruction of the tree.