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Cooper's Medusa

Cooper's Medusa

Friends –

It has been almost 10 months since I sold my Mom's house in Saratoga. As is typical, buyers have plans to tear down the home and build something bigger and more modern that will no doubt consume most of the property. Nonetheless, it remains vacant, and nothing has happened, so I took advantage earlier this month and wandered into the back yard and have one last look.

My heart strings pulling, I stared at so many corners recalling decades of activities that had occurred right there. There is one corner of that house that stands out, and that is the corner where our Cooper's Medusa currently stands – an enormous and intimidatingly fat long-needle pine tree.

When I was ten years old, my Dad bought this conifer from Yamagami Nursery, and carried it in a coffee can to plant it in the back yard. She started out small enough but grew substantially; always making her presence known as we also grew and played on the adjacent lawn. Over the decades, this tree became so enormous that it now would require 3-4 adults to hold hands and be able to surround her girth. She also grew impossibly gnarly, expanding roots that burrowed through tens of feet of dirt. Her multiple branch extensions now reach out massively in all directions – seemingly to compete in size with the diameter of her own trunk.

'That tree is a monster' my Mom once said with admiration in her voice, as she acknowledged the conifer's medusa-like qualities. To a large extent I had to agree, although this particular Cooper family Medusa did not turn any of us to stone. Nor was she something that we approached with horror or disgust. On the contrary, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids alike have enjoyed the pleasure of her shade, the hide-out opportunities she provided, and the sensation that some magnificent being was there watching over us, year after year. If anything, her Medusa-like arms offered us a comforting embrace.

She was messy and could be considered ugly, but oh, how we loved her. I will miss that tree as a symbol of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood through to now.

I dislike the idea of her ever being torn down, but it is quite possible that it will have to happen to achieve the new owner's building plans. But build what they may, if they do decide to tear down this Medusa, she will not make it easy for them. She is one of us.

"Cooper's Medusa" is not for sale, and I may work on her still – adding a few more toys and memories of stuff that we often left carelessly stashed at her feet.

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