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The Slice: Pining the loss of a lumbering friend

It wasn’t my favorite tree in our yard.

Not even close. All its sparse branches were up high and scraggly.

Because of where our house’s windows are, you didn’t see it from inside.

And for an embarrassingly long time, I was oblivious to the fact that it had died.

But you know what they say. You don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.

So I have been thinking about that homely, ignored tree.

The arborist who came to cut it down had a theory.

He said this particular 70-footer was the sort of pine you seldom see in residential areas. The same, he said, was true of the larch not far away in our next-door neighbor’s yard.

He thinks that the first guy to live in our house after it was built in 1950 went out into a forest and dug up a couple of saplings. Then he brought them back and replanted them in the two yards.

So the pine that’s now gone would have seen everything over the years at our address. Little boys racing around the yard making airplane sounds, pets chasing squirrels, storms blowing through, 10-year-old girls doing cartwheels, screen doors snapping shut, ambulances across the street, nervous teenage boys coming to the front door to pick up their dates, red helium balloons getting away, neighbors cutting across the lawn to share some news.

One family leaving. Another moving in.

The other day, I posed a Slice question asking who around here is most out of control when it comes to imagining that this or that object possesses human qualities and feelings.

I already knew the answer.

On the night before it got cut down, I walked out and put my hand on the doomed pine. This wasn’t a Vulcan mind-meld. Just wanted to say thank you.

Now I look at the larch watching over the neighbor’s yard and wonder if that tree misses its friend.

Sixty years is a long time to stand together through wind and rain, and all of the life being lived down below your branches.

Today’s Slice question: What’s your advice about trying to get a seemingly thriving 2011 poinsettia to rebloom?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Several readers ranked October’s weather as either their second or third favorite of all the months.

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