Friday, October 16, 2009

For the Love of a Tree....

“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the sea gulls and other birds as they glide on the wind,” ‘Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.’

Anybody who has read a lot about Anne Frank, knows this tree before I even have to tell them anything about it. It has stood in that spot behind the Secret Annexe, that was part of her father's office and warehouse building, where Anne, her family and neighbors hid, for 150-170 years. They were in hiding for a little over two years with little to give them hope. She would go into the attic nearly every morning and sit and look into this tree and think about how beautiful things could be. How she found that in anything with what she and her loved ones were dealing with, is beyond me.

The tree apparently has a fungus and large moth infestation that it has been battling for years. It was slated to be removed in 2007 for fear of it falling. The Dutch Tree Foundation stepped in and stopped the removal of the tree after showing it wasn't in danger of immediate collapse. The foundation and the neighbors then took over the recommended support and maintenance of the tree. In 1993, a soil analysis revealed that leakage from a nearby underground domestic fuel tank was endangering the tree's root system. The city of Amsterdam spent around $300,000 on a soil sanitation program to save the tree.

So, the tree seems to have a life expectancy of between 5-15 years, which I think is just heartbreaking. While I know it's just a tree, it wasn't just a tree to Anne Frank and thinking of what she saw when she looked at it, makes me sad at the thought of it not being there. There has been many a night when I couldn't sleep and I watched that tree on a live webcam, blowing in the wind as small birds flew by. When I was pregnant, I did it almost every night.

A friend of my husband's sent us an article from the New York Times detailing the plans for some of the saplings from the beautiful Chestnut tree. I love that saplings will be planted at the World Trade Center site and Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas where 9 black students integrated in 1957, with the help of The National Guard. I think there are 12 saplings that have been petitioned for and I like to think that this tree will live on in places where it will, hopefully, be appreciated. My wish is that they will be used as a learning tool to show what hatred can do when your government leads you to see other peoples as less than human, which is happening today, even if we refuse to see it.

This is an article from the NY Times.

This is a web cam that shows the tree 24/7.

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