In my back yard there is a mighty birch tree, nearly 100 feet high and 20 feet around at the bottom. The top half is white as the snow, and it gleams like a bleached limestone obelisk against the cloudless blue sky. It's leaves are beautiful (though they haven't budded yet) and hung on to their lofty branches late into the autumn months. It is one of my favorite trees in all the world.
It stands not 20 feet from my house, and so it poses a danger to my family should it ever fall. But it's roots are strong, shooting straight into the ground like the steel and concrete anchors of a suspension bridge. It has survived, unscathed, the hurricane that struck Ohio two years ago, so I don't worry about it toppling from the wind.
But there is a grave danger, posed not by the massive height of the tree, but from a humongous weed that has sprouted up not two yards from the giant birch. To nearly everyone, this huge weed appears to be a perfectly healthy tree. But it is not a tree. It is something else entirely. And it threatens the life of the tree and my family. You see, this disgusting, disease of a plant has shot its roots directly toward the beautiful birch, threatening to kill it from beneath the surface.
Though the weed is a mere shadow of the birch, it is life-threatening. It must be cut out, uprooted, before it turns the good tree into an instrument of death and destruction. The weed is itself a perversion of a plant, and it is trying to turn the birch into a perversion--an object not of beauty, grace, and majesty, but of chaos, danger, and death.
The weed has grown up in the shadow of the birch, unhindered and unchecked. It is often counted among the trees in the yard, though it is only an impostor. The weed must be killed. It must be fully removed. Its roots must be cut and untangled from the roots of the birch. It's branches must be hacked off and cut into tiny pieces. It's stump must be pulled from the ground. This is hard, tedious work, though the rewards in the end are worthwhile. When the weed is gone, the birch is free to grow to new heights, unthreatened by the strangling and perverting roots of the shadow tree.