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For many years, the rural hamlet of Ghent, Columbia County, New York, had an iconic house.  It was on the main street, State Route 66. It was quirky, and it was an eccentric landmark. It was a small house with a porch. What made it so unusual was that an enormous tree grew through the porch. Looking at the house made it clear: the tree came first, far more than a century ago, and the porch, a later, flimsier, manmade object, respected the importance of the tree and yielded to it.

Many people saw and marveled at the house and its porch.  More than once when I mentioned Ghent, someone responded, "€œIs that where the house has a tree through the roof?"€  Here's a photo of the house from 2011:


Yesterday when I drove down Route 66 I had an enormous surprise. A real shock that led slowly to sadness and despair. Not only was the porch gone, yes, it really was completely removed, but also the tree's limbs had been removed and the entire tree was coming down as well. Today I found the remains of that tree lying in the yard.  Here'€™s a photo of the house today:


I a€™m sure there are many seeming reasons for this. The house, after all was for sale last year, and who knows what kind of engineering havoc the tree's roots did to the foundation and the plumbing. This is private property.  It's not a building preserved by statute or ordinance. But all of that seems oddly beside the point.

This is sad. I don't want to be overly dramatic about it. But it's as if a familiar neighbor, an acquaintance who lived nearby has died. I know nothing about why it happened, and I know that things like this happen often, but I feel this loss deeply.

I know the famous gatha well:  

€œFrom interdependent causes all things arise, and all things fade away, so teaches the Perfectly Enlightened One.  

I get it. I'm sure you do too. This is only another example of impermanence.  It'€™s only natural that the house would eventually fall down, and that the tree would eventually topple or have to be cut down. And that eventually they'€™d both be gone. And their odd symbiotic relationship would be ended. Nothing is permanent, everything changes, everything fades away. This includes the iconic Ghent house and its giant maple tree, too.

Today, in their place I find a pervasive feeling of sadness, which, too, I am sure, will eventually fade away.

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Originally posted to davidseth on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers and Community Spotlight.

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