Arboreal Burial

Connecticut Green Burial Grounds is unique in that it allows a tree to be planted over a grave. In a short time, the sapling’s roots tap into the body below. Nutrients from that body become the tree. 

If you could be a tree, what tree would you like to be? What characteristics would you like to become? 

Would you like to be an oak—black, white, red, scarlet, pin, live, scrub, swamp, overcup, chestnut, chinkapin, which?—tall and strong, symbol of endurance, the stuff of the hull of the Mayflower, the species where the Charter of Connecticut once hid? 

Or are you more the maple type, lush in summer, glorious in fall, flush with sweet sap, the tree kids most prefer to climb?

Perhaps you’d like to be reborn into magnificence, a beech with overarching foliage as big as a house, a stout trunk of silver where lovers carve their hearts. 

You could be a linden, ever-so aromatic, beloved by bees, seeds favored by chipmunks, known by friends as basswood, quick to grow, going up a hundred feet to blossom in the sun. 

Why not for once be slender and beautiful, a stem or pair of stems of birch—white with bark that burns hot, black that tastes a minty sweet, paper all covered with curls—your leaves serrate, petiolate, stipulate, and feather-veined? In winter you would be beautiful in snow. 

Or would you sum your life as a weeping willow, your hair hung low around your grave, the space around you cavernous and cool? With every breeze you’d sway a slow and lovely dance. 

Or are you evergreen—cedar, hemlock, spruce or pine? Or ash or elm, chestnut, cherry, hawthorn, hickory, sassafras, mulberry or gum? So many trees to choose from, but you only get one. It's kind of like life, when you think about it. 

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* Banner image from "Every Common Sight: Paintings by Colleen Hennessy" NLLibrarium.com/hennessy