Trees or Convenience? We choose

You never know what will change things. For instance, one day the local, long-standing Travelodge, and adjacent restaurant, The Mason Jar, both shaded by huge pine and deciduous trees, was operational. The next day, the whole thing was surrounded by yellow caution tape. Days later the bulldozers and demolition crews moved in to dismantle all standing structures. As time passed I had such fear in my heart that these beautiful trees would also be demolished. But they seemed to be identified as worth saving and spray painted to indicate such and were not torn down. A parcel of barren, bulldozed, land is all that remained, save the seven or eight huge trees.

“Thank God they saved those trees”! I thought.

A couple of months later after the demolition was finished I was dismayed to find a brand spankin’ new Walgreens inserted onto the property. There had been a fully functional one located in a strip mall a couple of miles away, but in the interest of creating a grand gateway to a struggling neighborhood the powers that be decided a poorly designed, hard-to-drive-into-the-parking-lot Walgreens would make a statement. A statement of what, I have no idea. (I would imagine those that wave the banner of private property rights and free markets would applaud this use. I personally think we’re all in this together, that nothing is free in the market, and there is only the illusion of “owning” property.  I am in a minority in this thinking, yet the minority is growing.)

Fast forward a few months and the trees are still standing on the property. That beautiful spot could have been a small park, a neighborhood gathering spot, a refuge from the eyesore next door but instead, I see a new construction fence go up with a sign reading “National Bank coming soon!” Again, I am dismayed but cautiously hopeful – they will keep the trees, right?

How stupid am I? Pretty stupid.

All but two of those trees are gone.

Our high desert town has had many things to mourn the loss of, over the years, and for me those trees are one. For me, it’s the death of ancestors, before their time had come, pure and simple.

Something shifted in me as I mourned the death of those trees, something became clear. The deep desire in me to stand with the underdog, and those in need, came to the forefront. The death of six or seven trees have become my personal canary in a coal mine, saying ‘Danger! Don’t go further down this path of needless expansion and death for profit!’ The convenience of buying cheap drugstore items and a drive through lane at the bank is NOT wealth to me.







23 Comments on “Trees or Convenience? We choose”

  1. Mary says:

    NOT wealth to me. That simple phrase has a lot of impact on me. I like it. What if it were one answer to a question that could be posed to gauge our relationship to any aspect of our lives: “Does this create a feeling of wealth in me?” How different the world would be…


  2. Sad to read that the trees were not saved. One wonders if they replaced them somewhere else. Probably not.


    • It’s interesting, this town does have a tree ordinance, so there were probably some other trees planted somewhere else, but as one can not substitute one human for another, so it is often with trees.


  3. oldsongster says:

    Naima it’s no secret our spirits have lingered in sacred groves long after our peoples have died out or been driven on. Or that something perverse drives men to fell those same trees to the last one…….Someday we’ll say “There was a tree and there was a river so pure you could drink from it.” and it will be the gospel.


  4. Robin says:

    People are going to wake up one day and realize that they clear-cut their way into a totally polluted and ugly world. Trees are beautiful and they absorb CO2, so they help prevent climate change.

    I live where there is a lot of new development. It has been going on for years, so there are a lot of tree preservation areas; but not nearly enough to make up for the ones that have been forever removed.


    • Thank you for your comment, Robin. Yes, I do believe someday humans will wake up. I just hope we don’t destroy a large portion of the planet before it happens.


    • Thanks for commenting Robin. Clearcutting. Just that word sparks fear and sadness in my heart. How could that ever, anywhere be a good thing? No ecosystem ever included clear cutting as a way to manage itself. Yet humans, in their seemingly infinite lack of foresight keep doing it to THIER ecosystem.


  5. theinnerzone says:

    To me, trees are sacred because they are the most compassionate species on our planet. It is sad when they aren’t saved or looked after.
    Great post here.


  6. Sam Merel says:

    Ugh, we just got a new drugstore too, in a town that already has 2 CVS stores within 1/2 a mile of each other. So the new one makes 3, all on the same stretch of road.


    • Thank you for commenting, Sam. Yeah, drugstores. Maybe it’s the baby boomer generation that’s causing it. All the meds needed in later life? I don’t know, but it sure does make me sad.


  7. The loss of the trees, the addition of more chain drug stores, more banks… Every time I see a new development I hope that it will be something we need (but really, what would that be anyway?), something to strengthen the community. But no, it’s usually a Walgreens or a bank. It’s so sad.


    • Thanks for commenting, Michelle. Yep, I don’t really get why, with the advent of online banking, there even needs to be more newly-built banks ANYWHERE. Onward and upward.


  8. Natalie DeYoung says:

    Nothing pisses me off like ugly, needless development at the expense of beauty and other things good for our souls, so I really enjoyed reading this.


    • Thanks for the read, Natalie. Humans are weird. We want our toenail polish when we want it but we mourn the loss of the natural world it took to get it to us. I pray we figure out some balance soon.


  9. As a society we need to realign our priorities. We have traded reasonable prices (meaning, mostly, more costly than today) for reasonable amounts of STUFF (meaning, mostly, a lot less). While we might complain about a $20 t-shirt being too expensive when compared to a $5 t-shirt at Target, we need to also look as the amount of t-shirts we have…are they far more than we need?

    Sorry – rambling. But I really do think that the amount of stuff we’ve gotten used to having (i.e.: convenience) affects our judgement when it comes to larger priorities about parking lots versus groves of trees.


  10. angelaweight says:

    What is it with Walgreens? A few years ago, the city of Cochran, GA (just down the road from where I live) chose to demolish a grand, beautiful, one-of-a-kind antebellum home on the main street to build a Walgreens. A historic jewel torn down when there was a CVS Pharmacy four blocks away.


  11. i know! near my parents home there used to be trees surrounding the entrance to the area, but have since been cleared to accomodate a shopping plaza that people rarely visit. everytime i see it, its such an eye sore.

    if you have time, you might consider joining a local org. that plants trees. i did that back in college, planted trees with a local agency dedicated to growing forests and tree planting.


    • Thanks for commenting. Trees. I just watched the Lorax with my 4 year old. I’ve planted a few. I’ll plant more in my life for sure. Right now I’m making sure that the native piñon pines on my property make it through the driest winter and spring we’ve seen in a long time.


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