A tree stump resting in front of a lake with mountains in the backgroundI drive through an old neighborhood on my way to the office and back every day. It’s the highlight of my commute because I like to pass under the sprawling canopy created by massive trees that meet above the street.

Last year, a For Sale sign appeared in front of one of the houses. It’s a modest thing, fairly small, but the yard is full of great trees. One morning, the tree closest to the street was gone. Storms had moved through a few days before so I guessed it had been one of the casualties. Too bad. It had been a majestic fellow. Now, only a massive stump remained.

When I passed the house again on the way home, I felt bad for the owner. A stump that large would cost a lot to grind down. But what choice did the person have? Who wants to buy a house then pay for stump removal? Yet, the stumped stayed as I passed the house each day.

At some point, a huge pot with colorful flowers appeared atop the stump. Red and yellow petals stretched toward the sky to brighten that spot in the yard. Nice try, I thought. The flowers are most beautiful, Mr. or Ms. Homeowner. But you still need to get rid of the stump.

Time passed; the stump and its bouquet stayed. New flowers replaced the old ones whenever their colors began to fade or the petals fell away.

One day, I started taking a new way to work, experimenting with a shortcut someone suggested. I tried it for many months until the flowers and stump faded from my mind. Later, I nixed the shortcut. It didn’t buy me that much time, but I missed passing under the canopy of trees, especially since spring had arrived and summer was coming. When I returned to my old route, before turning underneath the tree canopy, I wondered: was the stump crowned with flowers still there?

It was.

Now, ivy is growing up the stump and onto the pot, covering almost half of it. In the near future, no one will be able to see the stump or its pot. Someone passing the yard will only see a mound of ivy with gorgeous flowers emerging from the green leaves.

I suppose the storybook ending would be a “sold” tag on the For Sale sign, or the absence of it altogether. But the sign is still there. Yet, if I turn down that street one morning and the stump with its crown of flowers is gone, ground down into oblivion, I will be most disappointed.

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