Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Alas. . .

Some while ago an internet aquaintence tried to tell me that oak trees were like iron, and could never possibly just fall down. The silly fellow was basing his experience on oak trees out in the desert. Of course oak doesn't rot in the desert; it's dry out there. Dead trees stand up like fence posts for hundreds of years in those conditions, for all I know.

Is this discussion setting off your alarm bells yet? Photo of tree, talk of tree falling down? The good news is that the tree has not deposited itself in our kitchen. The wretched news is that it comes down with the aide of a crane next Monday. This white oak is the magnificent centerpiece of our back yard. It kills me to do this, but the roots are rotting, and it poses a danger to our house.

This was our warning. These mushroom first appeared two summers ago. Awesome, I thought, that might be chicken-of-the-woods! (Chicken-of-the-woods is a highly sought-after wild mushroom, from what I have read; easily identifiable and with a taste like, you know. . .)

Then I read a little more and learned that chicken-of-the-woods spells doom for trees. In all likleyhood, it signaled root rot.

I put my fingers in my ears and played hear-no-evil for a spell. The following summer, no mushrooms appeared. Maybe I imagined the whole thing. But this summer, they were back, as big as straw hats, stacked up like pancakes. It was time to call the arborist.

The tree doc wasn't able to positively identify the mushroom, but he confirmed my fear about rotting roots. He was also able to tell me why the roots were rotting: in the 80's, when the bulldozers flattened the lot to build the house, they dug too deeply around the base of the tree, damaging the roots. You can see in our yard where the ground was scooped from all around the oak, leaving it on an odd mound. The dirt and rocks were piled in heaps around the edge of the wetland.

Almost thirty years later the damage is finally doing the tree in. The crown is healthy, but a good gust of wind could topple the oak without notice. Not only is our kitchen directly in the line of fire, but if we were to leave it standing now - a known danger - and it were to fall on our house, our homeowner's insurance wouldn't cover the damage.

To be continued. . .


Diana said...

I'm so sorry. It's always sad to take down a large tree. I'm trying to get up the nerve to get the street tree in front of our house removed. It's roots are causing havoc on the sidewalk (potential lawsuit) but more importantly this type of tree is well known for breaking up underground plumbing and our old plumbing goes almost directly under the tree.

Be brave.

I'm hoping to head down your way next weekend (the 25th) - how does that work for a visit?

Michelle said...

Ooh, Hi Diana! Next weekend should be great! :D