In 2019 we started a year-long process to extend our kitchen with the addition of a sunroom. The challenge we faced was one not uncommon to many endeavors: we had two competing objectives. We wanted both the sunroom addition and to keep a magnolia tree. Most contractors said it needed to be taken down. Yet, we found a path, but it required cutting a limb off the tree. A lesser sacrifice, but still a sacrifice, that tree would make for us.
So now I complete a ritual burn of the removed branch.
Like our ancient ancestors who once painted their veneration on cavern walls, or encircled the bonfire in ritualistic dance dressed in costumes resembling their prey to echo the hunt, I find myself engaged in a similar act of homage. My tribute, however, is to a magnolia tree, a silent sentinel standing majestically, who bursts forth in early Spring with a flurry of soft pink flowers and then remakes itself into a shade tree to protect us from Summer’s heat, now partly sacrificed for our sunroom’s birth. A limb, perhaps a third of its being, surrendered to human design. Had we not excised that arm, the entire tree would have faced oblivion, a lamentable fate indeed. In memory of its gift, I burned the desiccated remnants of that branch, an act imbued with a sacredness, a rite honouring life’s offerings, steeped in reverence, gratitude, and a profound respect.