I am spending part of the summer in a Zen monastery and in the back of the yard near the property line is an old mulberry tree. There were many different trees in the neighboring yard, but they were chopped down yesterday to make room for a new hermitage building, a residence for the temple priests.
Seeing the trees fall the head priest started crying. She said, "I would rather have the trees than the hermitage." I wonder if she was thinking about all of the animals and birds that would have to find new homes as well as the lives of the trees themselves. The mulberry tree is also filled with purple berries now, which provide food for nearby wildlife. Temple residents pick a few berries while hanging laundry on the nearby clothesline.
The good news is that the mulberry tree will probably be spared the builder's ax since it is far enough away from the construction site. It will continue to grow and meditate quietly in the yard for years to come, producing shade, berries, and leaves for any that want them. Perhaps the loss of its neighbor trees will make us appreciate the surviving mulberry all the more.