You Might Have To Cut Down Your Favorite Tree In Your Yard. I’m Sorry.

Sophie Lucido Johnson
5 min readAug 10, 2023

On making space.

I loved the forsythia that came with our house, and how could a person not?

This is all it was, but it was everything.

First, there’s that name, sounding like the villainess you root for in a dragon-fantasy novel. Then there’s the fact of forsythia’s yellowness: it’s a flowering shrub that can tower to twelve feet, and when it flames to life in spring, it’s all buttery bloom, at first; quite ostentatious. Our particular forsythia bush scraped against the back windows of the house. My mother-in-law wanted to significantly cut it back and I protested.

“It symbolizes excitement! Anticipation! A new start! Doesn’t that seem right?” I’d said.

“Sure,” she’d said. “But I keep walking into it.”

But I loved it. Beneath it, I felt like I was in the eponymous Secret Garden, overgrown and romantic. The next year, an oriole landed in it, and I put half an orange in its branches. Birds loved it. We ate summer dinners in its shade. Bird feeders hung from it, nasturtiums got tangled up in it, and when a chestnut-sided warbler flew into our window, we tucked him into one of its elbows while he healed.

Then, a few years ago, I demanded that we get a bean arch. This was because of a plot line on the television show Joe Pera Talks To