If a Tree Falls in a Forest*

A purposeful pathway slices through Wuding Lu (武定路)(formerly known as Wuting Road) and Kangding Lu (康定路)(formerly Conaught Road), parallel to Xikang Lu (西康路) (formerly Ferry Road).

On the opposing ends of the walls were contrasting states of development. In the north, a new construction towered in the horizon while in the south, a section of the old neighborhood stood derelict, waiting for the razing to begin on mass.

Instead of rubble and broken stone, construction workers were grappling with branches that formed an intricate maze against the bright afternoon sun. They had spent all of the day before sawing pieces apart, digging through roots and trying to pull the trunks out in whole pieces for scrap sale. Nothing ever went to waste if they could help it.

It was spring but ironically, there were no leaves anywhere for the trees have died a long time ago, as if anticipating the inevitable death of the neighborhood.

A man perched on the core of a trunk, heaving as he sawed through branch after branch. With the sun behind him, he looked like a peacock which had its feathers spread open behind him.

My eyes trailed from the branch to the trunk and down to the roots which were embedded deeply in the walls of the house and deeper in its foundation. It was going to take a bit more time to get it all out if they want to salvage both brick and wood.

“Who knows how long these roots run into the foundation,” the foreman wondered out loud. “Either way, we’ll get it done.”

March 2011

* In case you missed the reference.

When a tree falls in a forest 02

When a tree falls in the forest 03

When a tree falls in the forest 02




  • Reply March 29, 2011


    All your pics are great, but 2 and 5 are really amazing. The mix of beauty and destruction is always a bit confusing.

  • Reply November 12, 2011


    I’m impressed by your writing. Are you a professional or just very knlowedgaelbe?

    • Reply November 16, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Cheers for such nice comments. The writing comes more from the heart than anything else.

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