Good Stewards

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I’ve been in a kinda state of flux the past month, watching the results from the UCI cross races throughout the country. Then, Jingle Cross came this past weekend. Todd and Ned were both there. Night time ‘cross racing in the mud. I hated not being there. Hated it. It’s kind of weird how I check out the results and then try to figure where I would have finished. Intellectually I know that is impossible, but I do it anyway. The second guessing (if I had spent my November doing what I should have been doing) hasn’t been that great for my mind.

A couple days ago, I saw a friend that lives in the neighborhood where I grew up. She told me that the people that live in my old house, cut down the cottonwood tree in the front yard. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a good friend had just been murdered.

The tree was ancient. It was probably 12 feet across in diameter. It dwarfed the house. It was a very special tree.

The tree and I had a relationship. I lived in that tree for years. I had a rope tied to a lower branch and swung and climbed. Summer, winter, it didn’t matter. I nearly died when I fell out of it while collecting lady bugs and ruptured my spleen when I was 6. I played in the snow like cotton every spring. The local grade school would take time out of class to walk down and see the cottonwood tree in full snow production mode.

At least a few times a month I would go out of my way on the way back from a ride to say hi to the cottonwood. Never on the way out. Only on the way back, when it seemed right.

My friend said they cut the tree down because, supposedly, the trunk was hollow. A danger. But, the trunk had been hollow since I was a child. Squirrels lived in two huge holes 30 feet up. My mom had an arborist come out in the 60’s and he said it was hollow. It has been hollow forever. Just because these people happen to own the property where this tree has grown, doesn’t give them the moral right to make such a monumental decision. They had a duty to nurture this tree, not destroy it.

I then started thinking about what I’ve been doing. Roofing. My grandmother bought this building after World War 2. It was already over 50 years old then. My parents lived there after they were married. It has been a boarding house, a pharmacy, an interior design company, a print shop and even a hand-made teddy bear factory.

Anyway, I should have put a roof on this building years ago. It has been a sore point for awhile. But, I never had time. There was always something I would have rather been doing. The racing season never stops. Finally it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore it.

But, I had no idea it was going to take nearly 5 weeks to do this. No idea. It was a huge job. I learned a ton. I got really unfit for cycling. But I had a responsibility to fix it. A responsibility to many. Many I don’t even know. People that aren’t even alive. The craftsmen, from over a century ago, that built it. (I would spend one of my “three genie wishes” to be able to spend time with those guys building this stucture.) But, my main responsibility is to the building itself. Just like the cottonwood tree, it is its own entity. Living in some sense. Its life depends on people. We are stewards to our environment.

So, now I’m more at ease with the past month. I can bike race anytime.

From a era of the past.

From a era of the past.