27 January 2012

The Loss of a Giant

It's sad losing an old friend, even when it's a big ole tree. No it's not on the level of a human life. It is wrenching, at least to me, to see a grand majestic old tree, three of the actually, and some say over 300 years old, lying on its side, roots completely snapped off, almost like they didn't even exist.  A fallen giant. One gargantuan beech tree that had given so much pleasure over the years to many. There were initials carved into the trunk professing love that perhaps still lived on and maybe not. The spread of its limbs and broad green leaves shaded a pilone or way station that housed a serene ceramic Madonna inside where many had laid flowers by long burning candles in tall red glass cylinders over the years. Many stopped by when out for a stroll in the neighborhood. It was hard not to as it had been lovingly decorated with biblical scenes depicting John the Baptist and San Antonio  blessing the animals. A lovely point easily missed whizzing by in a car on the way through to the Grandubbione valley end of our paved road. However, on foot one is easily drawn in for a moment or two of contemplation, perhaps even petition or maybe a little solace on our Serre Marchetto hilltop.
Our almost 300 year old beech tree 
And so it was with great sadness that we discovered this sight when we strolled to the top of our road after a day and night of ferocious winds. The neighbors were already there and beginning to remove some of its limbs as it was blocking the road. The owners of the house were very lucky that the tree didn't fall the other direction or on anyone on the road. It fell about one in the morning according to a nearby neighbor. The most amazing part of this story is that not only did the tree come down squarely on the cement house that housed the ceramic Madonna, completely and utterly destroying the structure, the ceramic Madonna's head and shoulders were still completely intact. The lower half of her body was mostly gone, but her face and head were still in one piece. Very, very surprising indeed. Someone had set her up in front of the tree and now she has been put aside to be restored for the new prayer station that the neighborhood has already begun to discuss rebuilding plans.
The surviving Madonna
 There was a steady stream of people coming up to see the remains for themselves as the story of the felling of this old tree made it into two of the local papers. There was a fair amount of interest for a couple of days afterwards and even a small busload of school children yesterday came up to survey the scene. It's all mostly gone now, cleaned up, cut up and hauled away. It's a big open space now and will take some time to get use to and I must say I am looking forward to the rebuilding process, but the tree won't be able to be replaced, especially not that close to the house either, but it will be replaced and I welcome that.
Here are some photos of the tree and pilone that I took when they were both still intact. It's nice to be able to share this lovely companions in their former glory. I hope you will enjoy them as we have here.
Winter wonderland

San Giovanni Battista on San Giovanni day

John the Baptist 

 San Antonio Abate blessing the animals


Sarah in deepest darkest Lomellina said...

That poor house is going to look a bit naked without its tree.

It sad seeing something so huge and majestic brought down. I'm still missing the poplar grove they cut down last year, and they are grown to be harvested. But it looks all bare where it used to be, and we don't get the sea of spring time pink tinged leaves to lift the spirtits anymore.

Bella Baita View said...

It sure is Sarah. Always hard to see trees cut down en mass. Here they are always saying molto pulito. Yes it may be cleared up and it will grow back, but that takes time and like you said it just looks to bare and raw.

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