Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Debra - Saw-ry Old Friend

Trees live a long time. If you can’t put your arms around the tree trunk you know it’s old. When they put a gash in your big ol' tree delivering bricks during a remodel…you know the tree has (probably) prematurely reached the end of its lifespan. You know, but you hope you’re wrong.

I love my trees. I cried when lightning took out an old crab apple tree twenty years ago. For this tree I haven’t actually cried. I’ve had a couple of years to come to grips with “maybe” losing the tree. I put off calling the men with saws and a crane as long as I could. Miracles happen; teams rally in the last twenty seconds of the game. Unfortunately the Green Man was fresh out of miracles. Finally, in December I signed the death warrant and waited for the men with saws and a crane to arrive.

Then the rain began. If it rains, the ground’s too soft; they can’t get cranes in. (Did I mention that it’s a big tree?) Mother Nature rained every few days for months. Big ol’ tree started dropping limbs. Usually on fences. The tree span is so big it could take out multiple fences. Two of the limbs are still where they fell because they are tree-sized. They laugh at our puny chain saw.

Next, in the middle of February, the wind arrived. Followed by a tornado that had me locked in the interior hallway-of-nine-closed-doors with all my animals and wondering how much more wind the tree could take before the big crash-smash-there-goes-my-house. March, known as tornado season around here, is not good time to be in the vicinity of gi-normous trees which are sixty feet of deadfall. (They fall; you’re dead.)

Today the crane has finally rumbled into the yard. I couldn’t be happier. Who’d have thought I could go from sad optimist to cheering realist? By the end of today or tomorrow, all that will be left is a stump level with the ground. In another month or so (they’re backed up) they’ll send out the stump grinding team. I’ll actually be able to sleep deeply tonight, no need to keep one eye open and an ear straining for the tell-tale sounds of high wind.

No tears yet. I’ll probably cry when the first summer utility bill hits. I will have lost thousands of dollars in eco-benefits from losing this tree. It's not just the shade, it's water shed management, air filtering, etc. Big old trees need to be saved. There is even a registry for our big old trees started in 1940. http://www.americanforests.org/resources/bigtrees/
I’ll need to plant another tree. Any tree advice from you gardeners out there? Anybody else have spring cleaning that includes removal of a tree? Anybody know a good fence guy?


Playground Monitor said...

Our old house had trees galore and I was always dealing with tree stuff. The new house (we've been here 3 years) was built on an old cotton field. We had to plant trees -- Leyland cypresses down both sides in the back for some privacy and 3 red maples across the back for beauty. It'll be a while before they're big enough to cause problems.

Good luck with the clean-up. Do you have a fireplace where you can use the wood? Our old house had a wood-burning fireplace and every hardwood we had to cut ended up on the wood pile. We even got wood from the neighbors' tree guys who didn't want to have to haul the big pieces off. The DH would take his frustrations out on that wood with a wedge and an axe. LOL!


Michele Hauf said...

I'm a fellow tree lover. Every spring our city has a tree sale and sells bare-root trees (8 to 10 feet tall) for less than $30. But we've maxxed out trees in our yard, so I'm bummed. I feel compelled to plant at least a tree a year, so I'm so glad my daughter just bought a house that only has two trees in the yard. I get to buy two more trees this year!

Anyway, we have a big ole cottonwood that needs to go too, but I've been delaying it's removal because the remaining leaves do provide shade over our sundeck, and yeah, that whole environmental thing hurts if you have to chop it down. But we may use it as firewood. Only, that's the tree that I know the faeries live in, so, I'd really hate to see it go. :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, I'm sorry about your big tree, Deb. A few years ago the date palm that is the focal point of our pool (it was designed around the wonderful tree) became sick. Surfer Guy was predicting doom and gloom but did lots and lots of research...which resulted in more doom and gloom. But we paid someone who had a magic elixir to come out and dose the tree--no guarantees, of course--and it took a couple of years, but now it's as good as ever!

Now Surfer Guy is battling "thrips" that are attacking our hedge. He pruned it way back and boy does it look ugly but he promises it will be better than ever. Cutting it back cut down on our privacy on one side which is a bummer.

Keri Ford said...

So sorry about your tree. I've a peach tree that has been the little engine that could. It looks like I'll get fruit this year, so I will be so disappointed if the thing dies.

You should hollow the stump out and plant some flowers or something in it! keri

Cindy Gerard said...

I've been a tree lover forever but it was Dr. Suess who got me planting them. Remember The Lorax? "At the far end of town where the grickle grass grows and the wind smells sweet and sour when it blows and nobody speaks except for old crows, is the street of the lifted Lorax."
I could go on - really - but I won't. (I hear the sighs of relief) I read that book to our son so many times I still remember it almost verbatim.
the point is, The Lorax is all about ecology and conserving our natural resources. Tress are the among the best resources we have. And while you've reconciled yourself to losing your big old tree, Deb, I mourn for your loss :o)

Debra Dixon said...

Marilyn-- Oh! The pain of moving from old growth trees to a cotton field! At least you've got your planting done and can sit back and watch the trees flourish now.

Having trees has been one of the benefits of "old house syndrome."

We still have the largest tree left to go. It's a pin oak in the front of the house. That'll be another zillion dollar crane job. But they said we can probably keep it for 2-5 more years. I'll have time to get used to it.

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- The fairies lived in my crabapple tree. It's spread was phenomenal. One of the most gorgeous trees in spring that I've every seen. But there was some sort of clan war and lightning split it right down the middle. Just like in stories. So, I'm guessing there was some sort of Solomen's Choice going on. (g)

Have you had good luck with the bare root trees? 50% survival or more?

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- Wish I'd had that magic elixir!! I'm so glad you didn't lose your tree. Those are really slow growers aren't they?

Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- We have some fruit trees and a couple of pecan trees but we never get to the bounty before the squirrels, birds and racoons do!!

We'll plant a tree in the same location so we won't be able to use the stump for any sort of landscape table/planter, etc. :/

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- ::clap:: ::clap:: You know your Lorax.

Yeah, I'm reconciled. Fear for your life will do that to you, but I'm totally bummed. I'll feel better when I've got a new tree there. I'm toying with the idea of spending a little money to get a fairly mature tree. Probably me more than I can afford but it would be so nice to start off with a 10 year old tree.

Michele Hauf said...

Deb, 100% success rate with the bare root trees. We've gotten various maple, Kentucky coffee tree, couple crab apples. We plant them the day we get them, and water well. (One year it was actually snowing, in mid April, when we had to plant.) But they've all survived. I think our city gets them from a very reliable nursery. And for the price (always under $30) you can't not buy one!

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- I am psyched to know you've had that success rate! The trees are very reasonably priced when you buy bare root. So good to know that if you get them from a reliable nursery that they thrive. I'm adding them to the list for research ASAP since they'll need to be planted soon, I think.

Betina Krahn said...

Deb, I sumpathize. I adore trees and miss the northern oaks quite a bit down here. And if that was a photo of your big tree, zowie!

However, I am happy to point out that the big old trees generally aren't as environmentally healthy as the smaller, younger trees. The ones that are young and growing vigorously are the ones that take in the most CO-2 and absorb the most pollutants. So, in replacing this fabulous old tree, you're actually helping the environment. I promise.

And think what a lovely opportunity for a celebration. . . a tree warming!!

:) Betina