The pines belong here, seventy feet up or more. The oaks have found their way. The greedy hemlock hugs the border, its low-slung, dead branches cover the ground below. There is no light beneath it. A survival technique. A way to keep all of the light and water for itself. The swamp maple is as diseased and twisted and scaly and ornery as it sounds, but with a characteristic blaze of glory in the fall. There are also the birches—the white and the black. They are not hardy but they are beloved.

Cut back the diseased and the crooked and then the bigger, stronger trees have a better chance. When the leaves came in and we found we were entombed, I was right there with the pruners. Later, I watched and understood how taking some of them gave others a chance.

My head is full. My head is hot. My head is a cloud.

The sugar maples are love. The pines, desire.


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