After several weeks, only a few trees remained standing on the neighbour’s lot. Not a single one was a poplar.
The cutter had bucked the bigger trunks into stove-lengths, and someone had come with a pickup to haul them to a woodpile somewhere. The rest of the debris fed funeral pyres – okay, bonfires.
Before the snow fell, one could spot from roadside the flats of stumps gleaming here and there, footprints of the former forest.
The property is now buried in snow. Evidence of the depredation has been blotted out. The cabin will weather another winter. Many winters. It has weathered almost forty winters so far, just at this location. Maybe it has another forty in it. I will watch the cabin turn colour. Appendages fall off. Ribs expose themselves.
Maybe, who knows, the owner will raze the cabin, or maybe a new owner will raise a new one. I will not live to see the cabin become romantic. For when the roof beam breaks and the walls collapse, someone else will have that pleasure. And someone else will wonder: Who built it? Who lived there? Why did they ever abandon it? And do they think of it now, these ages past?
This much I know: When the snow goes, the poplar will rise like the legendary bird from the ashes, and from underground vaults. And soon the entire property will be festooned with the slender trunks and branches of the trembling aspen. For the poplar is a pretty tree, and neither nature nor we can live long without its companionship.
Let me invoke Rosemary C. one more time:
This ole house is a-getting shaky
This ole house is a-getting old
This ole house lets in the rain
This ole house lets in the cold . . .
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer,
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more . . .
Describe anyone you know?
In the last stages, if anyone should give me a romantic thought, I should be sublimely content.