WHAT WE DO WITH DEAD WOOD AROUND HERE

It’s still going to take a while, but patriarchy is on its way out.

It’ll come down like the dead tree that collapsed yesterday along the side of our house. It didn’t fall on the house, it didn’t fall on Aussie, it didn’t even fall on the gate and the fence because it wasn’t long enough. It was dead.

It had lost its branches long ago, the top crown of swirling, triumphant leaves even before that. It may have had some small critters still nesting inside, but even critters that take shelter in darkness know when it’s time to fold up and run. I saw no evidence of woodpeckers or the smaller birds; the squirrels had left long ago. No insects or salamanders rooted around its wet roots. And they won’t have a chance to return because we’re going to saw that trunk into logs and have them carted away on a truck for drying before eventual burning or milling.

It’s what you do with dead wood around here.

The important thing about getting rid of dead wood is that finally living trees can get more sun. I see again and again the shoots struggling to get out of the shade, arching their leaves as high as possible to get those precious rays that determine who will be a wussy shrub and who will be a magnificent pine climbing to the heavens.

In his book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben wrote that when parent trees lord it high over their young ones, it’s actually a good thing because in this way the young sapling has plenty of years to mature and for its roots to spread underground. Nevertheless, for the shoot to shoot up, the old ones have to finally come down.

So how much time does one need to wait?

How many generations of women leaders never became leaders, never picked up the gauntlet posed by environmental degradation, never made treaties to limit nuclear weapons, never led us to protest and punish rape, and never led us to invest in children, schools, in our very future, and instead tied their bodies to a plow and worked for minimum wage at Walmarts, told in every way possible that this is their true calling in life: be the humble shrub, the sapling that barely makes it above-ground its entire lifetime. Coerced, shown, threatened, and raged at: You will never rise to the top.

But they are rising now, and that’s because something dead is coming down.

Sure it tries to stay afloat. Tries to persuade you it can still grow new leaves come spring time, that those bald white spots are signs of wisdom and experience, the brittle bark a symptom of strength and virility, and the mushrooms growing at its roots? Why, those are signs of health and renewal. Of eternal life.

Bullshit. Aussie sniffed around a bit, then bent back and peed on it.