He should have left it. Or paid someone to come in, and do the job with a chainsaw. But he hadn’t waited. He had started. Still confident in the memory of the strength that was once his; he had fooled himself into thinking, that it would be an easily completed task. When he was younger, maybe an hour or two's work. Now he knew, that after the effort of the belly cut the night before, his muscles had lost much of their ability to hold onto oxygen, and they could not work for long stretches, without rest. Was it his lungs, or maybe even his heart, that was at fault? He didn’t know.
Just then there was a deep throated echoing wrench from within the tree and he knew that something had given way. Automatically, he stepped back in fear. Nothing more happened. There was silence. The wind still rustled the drying leaves, and the top most branches still swayed gently. There seemed to be no movement from the main trunk. The old man stepped forward and rested his hand on the warm bark feeling for the slightest hint of a movement. There was none. It was as still, and as unyielding, as stone. But unlike stone, under the palm of his hand he knew he could still feel a life. He did not understand why it was still standing, and so, he began to suspect, that it was now choosing its own time and place. He anxiously examined the tree once more, prodding around the gaping wound. He angrily pushed himself away from its trunk in frustration. It ignored him. He leaned forward, once more, still prepared to get away quickly, and placed his ear to the warm and dry trunk. He could hear nothing. And still he knew something had definitely torn inside that tree.
The grass was covered in hoar frost. The sun had not reached it yet. The tops of the trees were receiving the first heat of the early sun, and the dried leaves that had been frozen in place, overnight, were now falling silently and relentlessly. It was like a snow fall, there were so many leaves, but it was not pretty, as a snow fall can be ,when viewed from the warmth and safety of your home. This was a laying down of death, and a deep winter sleep. The old man stood, holding his aches and pains close to him, and he felt a shawl of sadness fall seductively about his shoulders. The tree still stood amongst its peers, and it too was shedding its leaf. The old man shook his head in frustration, for now he knew he had lost an ally. With the canopy gone, the effect of the wind would be greatly diminished.