By Kelsey Verboom
The time has come for the mighty Russian olive tree in Invermeres Cenotaph Park to fall, just as its about to bloom again. The 73-year-old tree has been deemed rotting and unsafe, and now its time to say goodbye to its sprawling, shade-providing limbs. Instead of dwelling on the trees removal, we can instead glean a few pearls of wisdom from the giant beauty.
Russian olives, which can grow in either bush or tree form, are actually considered a pesky, invasive species in some areas. For us, the tree has turned out to be quite the opposite: Invermeres Russian olive has been the centerpiece of the downtown core for three-quarters of a century.
It has silently provided much-welcomed shade to those who sit on the bench beneath its branches, and has brought a fresh breath of green to an otherwise nearly treeless downtown. Without any formal recognition, the tree has become a monument of sorts, and so its loss is, of course, saddening.
The death of the Russian olive which has already lived more than 20 years past the expected lifetime of an urbanized tree of its species is a reminder that the important relationship between humans and nature is one of the things the human race can never fully control. Instead, we can respectfully enjoy the relationship.
The District of Invermere has done a good job of recognizing this, and has let the public voice their opinion in a survey to decide what should replace the great tree. It has been decided that a new, younger tree will replace the aging Russian olive. Although its size wont be as impressive to start with, the immature tree will eventually grow to be just as majestic.
Even more important than the tree itself is what lies at the base of its roots: the concrete cenotaph memorializing the men and women of the Columbia Valley who fought bravely in armed conflicts. Although the tree may be replaced, the cenotaph monument will remain, and in this we can celebrate.