Worse than gone

There's some county-owned parkland in my city. It's not much, just some gently rolling hills with a few lightly-worn walking paths and occasional rocky bits, but it's nice. It's usually quiet but for the sound of the wind and the distant muted roar of freeway traffic. During the few months each year when the weather relents and we're graced with warm sunshine, it's a great place to clear your mind with an easy hike.

I come up here occasionally, to the back half of the hills, where a handful of old buildings sit, mostly worn down and sagging from age and neglect. The buildings aren't why I come. I come for the butterfly tree.

There's really nothing particularly special about this tree. It's just a tree like any other. I don't even have a photo of it. But it's pretty, and during the summer it's usually host to a rabble of butterflies. There's a small wooden bench a few dozen feet from its base, where I come to sit and relax in the sunshine and breeze. Sometimes I have a book with me, sometimes I have nothing but the butterflies and trees and clouds to watch. And it's peaceful.

Except now there's a massive construction project going right through it. The freeway is being extended, rebuilt, redirected, and its new path will take it past here. One of the old buildings will be preserved, the others will be razed. Presumably the giant tree will be left, though separated from the rolling hills and walking paths by a swath of concrete and steel. On my walk out to the hills yesterday, I was blocked by this sight.

And thus my favorite place to sit and clear my head of all the random thoughts of the day is worse than gone: it's unreachable.

There are similar benches elsewhere on the hills, but none quite like the one under the butterfly tree. The one I can't get to anymore.