My beloved lemon tree has died. Within just two or three days, it went from being a lushly green tree covered with blossoms and buds and ripening lemons to a dead tree with dried, shriveled leaves.
When I first saw what was happening to it, I went through all the stages of denial and hope for a miracle, but the tree was dead. When I finally accepted it, I was devastated. I felt as if a dear friend had died. Then I got furious and looked for somebody to blame. I called the county extension service who said that a tree wouldn’t die so suddenly unless it had been poisoned. As soon as I heard that, I knew who had poisoned it. Almost every weekend finds my new next door neighbor out with a sprayer attached to a can of herbicide, killing any weed that dares to raise its head. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out that my lemon tree’s roots extended over the property line and that his weed killer seeped into the soil and poisoned the lemon tree at the tips of its roots.
To be fair, he sprayed his own weeds on his own property, which he has every right to do. And my lemon tree was the one that went over the property line. Our houses are very close together, only about fifteen feet, so it didn’t have long to go. But my heart yells that weeds can be pulled out by hand and not poison the soil, and that the lemon tree had been growing for about six years and was the healthiest it had ever been.
At first I planned to plant another tree because I’ve enjoyed this one so much, but it would probably be killed too. The new neighbor seems like the kind of man who barrels ahead without a clue to how his behavior affects other people, so I don’t think he would be interested in what his weed killer did to my lemon tree.
When so many people in the world are fighting for a chance to live, it’s absolutely ridiculous how something like this can take on so much importance. I tell myself it’s a tree, not a child. And that my neighbor killed it by thoughtless spraying of herbicide, not by shooting it with a gun or dropping a bomb on it. I’m trying very hard to keep it in proportion, but I still feel like weeping when I see my lovely lemon tree shrunken and dead, with its lemons hanging dead from its branches.