Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The day after.

I'm lacking a suitable picture at the moment to reflect my melancholy mood; our house is no longer in danger of being crushed by the Tree of Damocles. A beautiful, irreplaceable plant has been reduced to various mundane components. So here is a little fellow who turned up in Chris's veggie garden. I airlifted him to a neighbor who has a more robust stand of milkweed, and quite the passion for monarch butterflies.

So, the tree. . . We wanted to have the arborists chop branches to various lengths for garden use, but that would have required lifting large tree segments over the house repeatedly and in many smaller pieces. Nor did they cut lengths of wood into four-foot segments which I had planned to use for cultivating shitake mushrooms. Time was running short, and Chris felt it prudent at that point to let them proceed with their usual methods. I see that as a blessing in disguise, because as much as I would like to recycle the wood in that manner, it would require drilling hundreds of holes, pounding in hundreds of dowels, covering all of that with hot wax, and dragging heavy chunks of tree about the yard. No, I really don't need a project of that magnitude right now.

So, we are left with wood to be aged and chopped for the fireplaces, and mulch, which contains poison ivy and so must be handled with caution. And we are left with one other thing: a twenty-foot trunk still standing. It will put out new growth, no doubt, and it will continue to rot; and the woodpeckers will find it to be fine dining for years to come until it finally falls over and damages nothing in the process.

A smaller maple tree was removed as well for similar safety reasons, and now, standing there without its top, it looks so much larger than it had before. The oak trunk looks gigantic.

Chris did a quick count of the rings of the oak and came in around seventy or eighty years. But that's a core sample taken from twenty feet off the ground. I would guess it's a hundred, poor thing.

Here is one unexpected glint of happiness in all of this: I e-mailed my father the day of the cutting, and found out that he has deep sentiments for trees. How did I not know this? Not only was he already aware of the plight of the American Chestnut and the efforts to restore it, but he holds it in the same regard that I do: that here is the important species to focus on, rather than some charismatic big-eyed mammal at the top of the food chain.

Here is Dad's eulogy for the tree:

"I know it had to be done, but I always hate to see an old tree taken out. I think I'm at heart a Druid. Plus, at some level I just can't help feeling that something that large and old could somehow be self-aware in some manner that's beyond our understanding."


Pam J. said...

I mourn with you. And I wish I could say "oh, it's OK, it's all for the best, yada yada yada" but I can't. Our enormous tulip poplar tree has been gone for about a month now and I still have stomach pains with I look at, walk by, think about the tree stump. Our stump is just about 10 inches high, and because our back yard is very, very shallow (most of our yard is in the front and side)the stump seems, to me at least, to dominate the back yard. I'm trying not to be a big baby about this but so far I've not succeeded.

Diana said...

Hi Michelle. Sorry for your loss.

I was hoping to swing by your garden with the Liatris that will not flop on Saturday. Do you want anything else you've noticed on my blog? How are you with houseplants? I have a small pot of "babies" from my spider plant Curly Sue that's looking for a home.

Please email me directly at DEQDAVIS at G Mail dot com (no capitals, I think you can figure the rest out) so we can hash out the details.

I look forward to meeting you.

scottweberpdx said...

Oh, I'm so sad to hear about your tree...just found your blog, so read back a few posts to find out what happened...it's really sad :-( We bought our house just a little over a year ago in a neighborhood full of lovely old oak trees...the trees are one reason we chose this house, we loved the atmosphere the trees provided. Every once in a while I look out the window and dread the day one of them gets sick or is toppled by a storm. I hope you can find a replacement...at least the stump will provide valuable habitat for many animals. Small consolation, I know.