When we first moved into our house six years ago, our friend and new neighbor Dave told us "You're going to have to figure out what to do with your donut." I was puzzled--wouldn't I just eat my donut? (not that I had one on me at the time)--until he pointed to the bush that ringed the bottom of our redwood tree.
Our street is lined with redwoods--not the majestic giants you find in the Redwood National Park; our redwoods are skinnier, splindlier, but not without their own lanky beauty. One is planted in front of each house on the street; each has a donut springing around its base. Some of our neighbors keep their donuts trimmed in close to the trunk; some of them have larger but still well-manicured donuts. Others have decided to shave off their donuts entirely. (I should mention that I had been using the word "bushes" instead of "donuts" in the preceding sentences, but I realized it sounded too much like a discussion of my neighbors' pubic hair, something I can't claim, and don't want, to know about!) We were pretty much the only house on the block to let our donut grow wildly. Over the years, it came to resemble a sprawling sea creature more than a donut, sending tendrils out over the sidewalk, sometimes snagging people's pants as they walked by. I loved our donut, loved its cheeky wildness.
The city's been doing some tree-trimming in our neighborhood lately. I saw orange cones in front of our house on Monday, and imagined that a few spare branches were going to be cut near the top of our tree. When I came home after picking up the kids at school, though, Arin said "The donut is gone!" The city had shaved the whole thing off. And even though I tried to avoid pubic hair references above, they seem more appropirate now. Especially given the fact that the trunk splits into two trunks near the base, like upside down legs, slightly parted. The juncture had been hidden by the donut, but now it is naked, exposed to the world. Our sexy, vulnerable tree. I hope the donut will grow back soon and return it to its old wild modesty.