Almost thirty years ago I bought this house because two things spoke to me: the large front porch, partially roofed, and the huge elm tree that stood like a sentinel at the foot of the driveway. I think I mentioned last week that a large branch fell off suddenly, unexpectedly one afternoon about two o’clock. An hour later, and it could have landed on a child leaving the elementary school across the street. Today we lost the tree.
Over the years, several branches have fallen. Once I came home late at night from a long trip to find the front yard covered in branches. Another time, a neighbor rushed down to saw a branch that hung by a thread, saying he was afraid it would fall on a child. Then he charged me sixty dollars. I finally figured out that it was the city’s tree, because it’s in the boulevard, the patch between the sidewalk and the street. Thereafter, I called the city whenever it lost a branch, but I did so with fear and quaking, because I was terrified they would take it down.
Somehow, in my mind, that tree anchored the house in the neighborhood. I could not imagine the property without it. But last week, when the city cleaned up the fallen branch, the arborist said the tree was dead and a danger. And today, they came to take it down. Jordan pointed out that you can see how hollow some parts of it were. I’m a bit relieved, because we are to get storms tonight, and I don’t need to worry about a tree falling on the house and killing my family. (Yeah, I can usually find things to worry about.)
|A sad view of the destruction|
Taken from the front porch looking at the school across the street
The house will be a hundred years old next year, so I’m assuming the tree is that old. That leads to the question of another tree. I will check but I don’t suppose the city replaces them. I know no tree, unless maybe a junk tree like a hackberry, will grow in my lifetime, but I feel a tree is a legacy I must leave behind. It will seem so odd to have a sapling where that grand, majestic tree was. I don’t think another elm. Perhaps oak, because they seem to do well in Texas. A redbud? Pretty, but I don’t know.
I read somewhere recently that research has demonstrated that trees communicate with each other through their root systems. Sounded a bit anthropomorphic to me, but I am always willing to believe such spiritual things. So now I worry about those other trees, like the lovely oak that stands between our front lawn and the neighbors. Are they missing my elm?
The city did a fairly nice job of cleaning up, shaving down the big roots that might trip people and taking the stump down to ground level. But the stump is still there. We will have to find someone to grind it out and fill the resulting hole with dirt. It’s not a DIY project for this household.
And we have other tree concerns. The pecan that provides wonderful shade for my patio and probably keeps my cottage cool in the afternoon is shedding those tassel-like catkins that result from blooming (no technical botanical discussion here). They blanket my patio right now and cling to Sophie’s fur whenever she ventures outside, which is sometimes five times an hour—you know: I want in, I want out, I want in, now I think I’ll go out. Jordan blows the patio daily and trained Jacob to do it when she was out of town recently, but with all the rain we’ve had, the catkins don’t easily blow away.
And then there are two glorious big oaks at the edge of the drive—gorgeous canopies that shade the main house and no doubt help keep it cool. But their roots are encroaching on the already-skinny driveway, making it a hazard for the unsuspecting driver. I have lots of friends who won’t even attempt it, which is a problem if they’re picking me up. Complicated but there are few other places where my walker and I can fit. We can’t move the drive even an inch, because it already abuts the neighbor’s property line. I worry about these trees as much as I did the one we lost today. But I am also thankful to live in a neighborhood so full of luxurious trees.
Joyce Kilmer was right about never seeing a poem lovely as a tree. He just forgot to mention worry and maintenance.
|What's left tonight|