So there’s this tree I’m obsessed with murdering. Normally, I do not have rage-y feelings about trees. Trees are great! Trees are life-giving, and pretty, and shady, and fruity, and Jesus Christ, who could hate a tree, right? Well, me.
This willow tree belongs to the property next door to mine. When we first moved to our haunted-house-looking 1881 Victorian 15 years ago, it was a reasonably sized tree. Though it was planted only about 10 feet from the back of my neighbor’s house, it was a normal, shade-giving tree I didn’t give a second thought about. One of my daughters used to make wreaths from its branches, for crying out loud. The tree’s only useful purpose as far as I’m concerned is that at Halloween it looks great with a spotlight on it as a background to my fake cemetery.
But I’m a gardener, and my yard doesn’t get much sun. I planted a lilac bush, roses and peonies along the white picket fence, and they did great. Right up until about five-six years ago, when the willow tree started taking over the neighborhood universe. The massive tree’s huge, messy branches now hang all over half my backyard.
The next-door neighbors rent their house to people I can’t stand. They are rude, obnoxious assholes and we avoid them and their stupid dogs as much as possible. The absentee landlord owners are no sooner going to trim the willow tree than plant some fruit trees on the property line and invite my kids to pick apples. Half of my heirloom roses and peonies have died. Also, the sunny space available to me for a vegetable garden (the only sunny spot on the property) has been reduced by about 75 percent. I’m down to some tomatoes and peppers, and at this rate, in a few years, the damn willow tree shade will kill those meager crops, too.
I fantasize on a regular basis about killing the sun-stealing tree. Another neighbor of mine accidentally killed his willow tree by emptying a lawnmower gasoline can into his stone driveway. The nearby willow tree with its notoriously shallow roots managed to drink the gasoline and die. And I was so, so jealous. I stared longingly at the dead willow tree before he removed it, thinking about how much better of a Halloween decoration a dead willow tree would be than a live one.
The seemingly accidental arborcide-by-lawn-mower-gas scenario seems totally reasonable, minus me writing about it right now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost gotten that lawn mower gas tank in the dark of night and gone over and laughed maniacally while pouring gasoline and whispering “Die, tree.”
But I can’t kill the supremely annoying sun-hog tree that drops leaves and branches all over my damn yard. Why? Because it’s a placenta tree. When the people who own the house next door actually lived in it, a decade ago, our kids would play together and the woman told me that she planted the placentas of each of her children with trees when they were born. The bloody afterbirths and DNA and life-giving umbilical cord that normally is thrown away after a baby is born, that hipster moms now make placenta soup out of and eat it because do you think I could make that up? Well, some people plant placenta trees and so the willow tree is a motherfucking placenta tree, nourished on the blood of mother and child, and do you think I’m going to kill that tree and have to deal with some kind of lifelong bad tree karma juju bullshit? No way.
I could deal with being the kind of person who would kill a tree, but I can’t seem to get my head around being the kind of person who would kill a placenta tree, no matter how much I love peonies and strawberries and hate the neighbors.