My grandfather climbed trees.
Not the little shrubs that the overcrowded smog choked denizens of the inner city have mistaken for trees, but the kind of trees that stretch up to block out the sunlight. The kind of trees whose roots gnarl and knot through the forest floor – warping the foot’s path.
The kind of trees whose crash echos for miles around.
My grandfather climbed those trees.
He did it for fun.
I watched him in his gear, well into his seventies, work his way up the trunk of one of those massive ceders.
When the neighbor moved in across the street, and started cutting down all of his trees, my grandfather went over and gave him a talking to. A short while after, my grandmother came, and in a much nicer fashion told the neighbor the same thing: don’t cut down all your trees.
It didn’t make a difference.
Lawns which can be crossed.
On the other side are neighbors.
One neighbor told me to help myself to her herb garden. Another gave me a yogurt tub full of raspberries, two heads of lettuce, a cut of rosemary, and a dozen eggs. The chickens were laying like crazy, she said.
The neighbors are kind.
But they don’t understand the importance of trees.
They’ve never lived in a place without them.
Trees are the air filtration system for the planet.
We don’t have them in LA.
Not like you do in the pockets of the world who still understand the meaning of the word “forest”. In these forgotten places, where people feed themselves from the land, where old ladies sit in the coffee shop over lunch and discuss the fact that every greenhouse in the area has ten or so marijuana plants.
Here, normal is standing on the porch discussing the merits of anarchy.
Yet anarchy won’t save those trees.
Neither will the government.
Big Brother wont stopped us from destroying our air filtration system and taking a neatly trimmed shit on its rotting corpse.
The air in my forest is clean.
It is fresh.
It is wonderful to breath, even when fleeing it covered in bees.
While the yellow jackets clung to my leg, I didn’t miss the toxic grasp of Los Angeles, that smothering cloud of smog that on a clear day still manages to dry the throat and choke the lungs. My body only had to deal with one poison at a time. I could run and breath and swat those little buggers without any difficulty.
Forests have bees.
It would be much harder for them to survive if we cut down all the trees. If we removed the native habitat, all those horrible little stinging insects would struggle. They would adapt or die.
The wolves would have no where to hide.
All that would be left would be the hum of power mowers.
The stench of pollution.
The constricting cloud of consumerist propaganda.
We don’t have trees in LA.
It has shrubs here and there, speckled on the outskirts in wealthy towns where certain species of a certain size are protected – but that is pretty much it. The sprawling mass of downtown is a sea of cement. It is concrete and pollution – trash and overpopulation.
It is humanity swelling and breaking at the seams.
No real trees – not the kind that tower overhead, the kind that if they come down in a storm will crush everything in their path – the kind whose roots hold in the soil and keep it when the wind and rains try to pick it up and carry it away.
Trees are the air filtration system of the planet. They breath poison in, and exhale so we may live. I will never cut down this small patch of air filtration, the ones my grandfather used to climb for shits and giggles. I will leave the dense forest, the root twined paths and the underbrush peppered with edible berries.
I didn’t kill those bees.
Just because someone hurts me, doesn’t mean I hurt them back.
But I like to keep it as an option.
I know where those bees live.
I know exactly where to point the foamy toxin, if I ever feel so inclined.
Until I feel like it, those poisonous little buggers, which are not so poisonous to me, will guard my grandfather’s trees.
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