To the Editor:

There’s a new tree on Cross Campus — wait. A new tree? Hold it right there, Katherine. Let’s not be too hasty. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Catty corner from the Bass Library pavillion near WLH, the tree in question stands tall, smugly rooted, without offering any answers. My house-mate Will told me he thought it was an old tree. It toppled in the storm, he said.

I don’t buy it.

Here’s what I remember: One night last week, a son of a gun of a wind storm passed through town. I witnessed a neighbor of mine, who, mind you, is kind of smallish, nearly topple over while mounting her bike. Sitting near the window in my room, I wondered if it was strong enough to topple a tree. But I wasn’t sure. The next day, I strolled through Cross Campus and found a tree, like a wounded soldier, down on its side. There’s my answer, I thought. But then I got a whiff of fresh mulch. Old tree, fresh mulch? I don’t think so. The wheels started turning.

Had the groundskeepers bestowed on us a gift in the form of a new oak friend, perfectly aligned in pantomime with the others? Or had an old, trusty shade-giver just been brought to its knarly knees? It’s hard to say.

Something’s up, and I want to know what the deal is …

Everyone’s asking the same questions but no one’s the wiser. I wish I could swear to you readers that yes, I’ve seen this tree a thousand times if I’ve seen it once before. But I can’t. What if it’s brand new, fresh from the forest — or the garden department at Home Depot? Maybe Loew’s. Maybe both. Or neither. Ladies and gentlemen, this uncertainty is the problem.

In the last few days, the tree has been resurrected. It fills the might-have-been-empty-before quad space once again. Braced by a series of steel cords with traffic cones strung on the bottoms like tennis shoes, this addition to the landscape seems so familiar, yet so, so strange. I want answers: a photograph, maybe, or a written account.

Until some sort of announcement is issued or a gesture toward the definitive is made, I will continue to wonder and search for the truth: Is this tree new, or is it old? Should I be surprised, or not surprised? Does anyone else care about this, or am I just a rootless wanderer, a sad sap … ?

Will Griffin

Feb. 21

The writer is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.