The freeze we had last week turned the tops of trees black, froze plants where the stood. This week, the roar of chain saws is as loud as after a Connecticut ice storm.
And it’s the wrong move. The leaves have died, but most trees are not dead. They are dormant, and while the top two feet are dead, cutting them off now, while it’s still January, will encourage them to start growing while it’s still too cold. Then the tree will suffer the damage, maybe die.
The best thing to do, according to the arborist I spoke to, is to simply let it go till early March. The leaves will turn black, fall off, and it will look ugly, but when trimmed in March, the tree will recover. Maybe not as lush, but it will take a cycle of a year for the damage to heal. Heal. Yes, even trees.
Waiting. Healing. We don’t like to look at damage, so we cut, remove, throw out. And cause more damage.
I’ve done that with my work. Hating to look at a piece I didn’t get right, I will tear it out of the journal and threw it out. Fast, so no one could notice. So fast, that I couldn’t sit with the discomfort of figuring out what I’d done that didn’t work and learn from it. So fast that the fault line would grow and I’d make more mistakes.
Had I left it, learned from it, accepted that I’d messed up (again!), I could have accepted it slowly, become OK with it slowly, and then covered it with paint or gesso and remembered and grown around it.
––Quinn McDonald is a writer and art journaler.