The Restorative Power Of Nature

Kukui nut tree sprouts proliferate where the tree once stood — the mighty power of nature | Jane Esaki photo

Kukui nut tree sprouts proliferate where the tree once stood — the mighty power of nature | Jane Esaki photo

I cut down the big kukui nut tree in my yard the other day, and I must admit I felt an incredible lightness of being after that.

Tree huggers, hold your tongues. The decision was not made lightly. In fact, it was a tortuous determination process that spanned five years.

All along, I tried to save the tree. Never mind if it shed its leaves, nuts and dead branches en masse on the grass every single day. Never mind that its falling debris and humid shade started rotting the deck it covered. Never mind that its gnarly roots started growing under the house and probably into the septic system.

Most people wondered why I wouldn’t cut it down. They kept telling me, “Just do it already. You’ll be glad you did. It’s just a wild and unruly tree.” Somehow, I couldn’t be convinced.

Its lovely frosted leaves and delicate white flowers not only provided shade on hot summer days and served as a home for visiting feathered friends, but it also became the backdrop for a prayerful poem that I scribed years ago to remind me of nature’s beauty and restorative might.

To avert the tree’s demise, I kept the canopy trimmed, believing its roots would grow only as wide as the canopy, and I meticulously kept debris off the deck floor to prevent further decomposition. How I continued to enjoy that tree!

Even when the deck became irretrievable and I had to replace it with a roof over it, I still asked stubbornly that the tree be saved. So the carpenter carefully truncated the roots where the posts and piers rose from the ground and cut away the large limbs just barely away from the eaves.

When the sprouting leaves from the cut limbs began growing rapidly under the eaves, I realized this endeavor had become a continual fight between the tree and me. The final straw was when I could no longer reverse a car over the roots and I imagined that the roots were now actively compromising the leach field nearby.

The tree had forced my hand; my options were nil. It had to go. I ordered the execution, and the five-year psychological ordeal ended in just a matter of a couple hours. With the tree now gone, the area became remarkably bright and airy. But what really stunned me was when I looked out over the deck. Revealed before me was a breathtaking view of a verdant mountain range that I had never before seen in its full glory!

Despite the newfound stress-free comfort and splendor I now enjoy, I still can feel the tree’s presence, perhaps like an appendage that’s no longer there, and am grateful that it once served me. It won’t let me forget it anyway, as it continues to make its presence known every day. Breaking through the earth with such might is a constant profusion of baby kukui nut trees all over the yard where the tree’s canopy once shaded.

Oh, the restorative power of nature! Kukui nut trees, anyone?