The loss of a tree


I contributed to global warming a tiny bit more than usual recently. When we moved in to our home over 40 years ago there were two maple trees and an ash tree that provided shade in the summer, but now they were showing their age. The maples had reached a height where I could no longer stop the branches from rubbing against my siding and roof when they blew in the wind, much like a kitten rubs against your legs, when they want to be pet. This was causing damage that was unavoidable and unacceptable to me. There was also an ash tree in my front yard that was wrapping it’s hands around the wires heading to my house, the power lines and the phone line.  

I had considered having some tree work done since about 2010 when I started noticing an increased amount of branches of all sizes in our yard every time we had a wind storm. 

Originally, I called a tree guy just to have the offending limbs trimmed and the ash removed before they caused any more problems. It was not an easy decision, at first. When he arrived he looked over my trees and we sat down on my porch. 

In a tone reminiscent of a doctor telling you your test results, he asked if I wanted the good news or the bad news first. I opted to hear the good news first. He said that the ash tree in my front yard was healthy and showed no evidence of the emerald ash borer beetle that was devastating hundreds of millions of trees in North America. He said he wouldn’t remove it but could trim it so if it was uprooted in a storm or died it would simply fall away from my house without taking my wires with it. He said he could also trim back the maple that was becoming overly friendly with my house and my new addition. So far so good.

The bad news was the sugar maple that was shading the majority of my house had seen better days and was rotting from the inside out. He said he could trim that one also but it was only a matter of time before it died completely and came crashing down, possibly into my house. Well, I had anticipated cutting one tree down and trimming two others just not the ones he suggested. So we agreed on a price and he scheduled the carnage for a later date.

As the maple tree’s last days loomed ahead of us, my wife and I were asking ourselves whether this was the right decision. Who really knew just how long this tree would stand, offering us shade and the neighborhood birds a place to live. This tree and the shade that it provided, was one of the things that first attracted us to this place. But, over 40 years later, it was dying off. 

Early the morning of the bloodshed, after reading the day’s news and having breakfast, I walked over to the maple’s trunk. I gazed up through its branches and leaves one last time. I watched as the shadows of the leaves formed ever changing patterns on the side of my house and I sighed. How could something that moved this much be dying. And I hugged it. I actually became a tree hugger. I thanked the tree for all its service, patted the trunk and, as a single tear streamed down my face, turned and headed back into my house.

The tree guy and his crew arrived shortly after that to take care of business. It was interesting to watch how they removed the limbs over my house without dropping then on my roof. It was like a midair ballet. 

Later that day, I went out to check the chainsaw’s progress, which is probably a strange way to refer to the end of a life. There were a few hollow parts in the upper branches but a section of the trunk was emptier than my own heart. They loaded up the wood (I’m sure they have a firewood business also) and hauled it off. 

I was impressed that, when the tree was down, they ground out the stump, they raked up all the chips and filled the hole with topsoil. The topsoil was probably a better grade of dirt than on the rest of my yard.

 I am now surprised just how much light comes in thru my dining room window. Even at night the street lights shine in so much that I don’t need night lights anymore. 

A recent study published in the journal Science stated that the Earth has enough open space to be able to plant more than one trillion trees. They said this is enough to capture some 800 billion tons of carbon dioxide. I am sure the loss of my one tree won’t make much of a difference in global warming but it sure has made a difference to me.

Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport, New York. 

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