PHOTO ESSAY: Goodbye, Tree

I have, or had, a very large Box Elder tree in my backyard. It was a part of the landscape, destined to be there forever. Or so I thought.

After one of our windstorms late last Spring, a sizable chunk of Tree lay strewn on my backyard lawn. There were large branches and multiple small branches and twigs and leaves everywhere. The clothesline was mangled.

The tree specialist from Terra Firma Forestry assessed Tree’s health, and concluded that if properly trimmed, Tree would live for many more years. My neighbor Barb, whose backyard also benefited from the shade of Tree, was happy to hear that news. Tree was trimmed.

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Tree after trimming, and after more branches kept dropping.

All was well for a short while, but then Tree started dropping more limbs without the help of a windstorm. It was obvious to us who witnessed this, that Tree was not at all well. Tree was dangerous. Tree had to be put down.

I invited my neighbors to a champagne toast to celebrate Tree’s life the evening before Tree was taken down. Present were my neighbors Barb, Calvin, Mary, Tom, Jay, Marilyn, Janet, and Chenoa, who took this photo.

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As we toasted, we each said a few words. I started with, “I’m honored to have the president of the Tree Board (Marilyn) here.”

Marilyn, rather wistfully, added. “All too often I’m presiding over these tree removals” .

Not so wistfully, but more pragmatically, I mentioned how valuable trees are to property. “I am a tree lover. I paid more for my property because of Tree and I’m really upset. It’s like a kid that causes no trouble until they get to a certain age and then all of a sudden… I wasn’t prepared for this.”

Marilyn added her memory. “I’m really going to miss the yellow warblers in the spring. They’d perch in Tree and maybe nest – I’m not sure – and they would sing.”

“Oh no! How sad!” we exclaimed in unison.

I addressed the newest member of the neighborhood. “Chenoa, you’ve only loved Tree for a few days and you probably didn’t love Tree, but do you have anything to say?

“I will say that my father owns his own interior woodworking business, and he’s a tree lover. He has a sawmill… He could make lawn furniture out of this tree. But he’s out of the country right now.”

“Oh no!” we exclaimed in unison.

It was Mary’s turn. “We’ve only enjoyed Tree for over a year now, and it’s been a great source of pleasure. We’ve had some wonderful evenings and afternoons and even mornings sitting out here in the shade. It’s been wonderful. But I will welcome the sun in the winter.”

Tom toasted with this thought: “I’m the glass half-full guy. Thanks, Tree, for the good job you did. You’ve stood up, he, she grew up this big and made a lot of people’s lives pleasant.”

Marilyn the Tree Board President: “It’s a ‘he’”.

Cynda: “You can tell that? Tree Board president says Tree is a ‘he’. It doesn’t have seeds hanging down.”

Tom: “Anyway, Tree’s created a lot of joy over the years, and like my cat, it’s done its job, and goes. And to reiterate Mary’s comments, the morning sun will be nice. It will be different and other stuff will come.”

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Calvin rests against one of the forks of Tree, where his treehouse once was.

Barb: “Calvin built a tree house in this tree before you were here, and he cut off this branch. And there goes my laundry line (attached to the tree) And when Calvin was spray painting his derby car he came out and spray painted the tree…”

Cynda: “No wonder it died. It’s all Calvin’s fault.” (laughter)

Calvin: “I built the tree house with my baby sitter, and with part of the old fence. That way I could climb the tree.”

Jay: “The one thing I remembered about this tree was watching Talon, the cat that belonged to Justin who lived on the alley, go all away up to the top of the tree, and then run straight down it when it thought it was time to come down.”

We had a final toast that evening to our good friend Tree.

The next morning, the tree climbers arrived and skillfully did their work. Following are photographs of Tree’s takedown.

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It’s clear from the photos that Tree was irreparably decayed, and it is good that he was taken down before either person or property was damaged.

Goodbye, Tree.  We will miss you.

Cynda Green

Cynda Green is an investigative reporter who enjoys writing about various and sundry topics, least of which is politics. But someone has to do it. Contact: cyndagreen@gmail.com