Goodbye to a Giant

Tomorrow a huge oak tree in my front yard is coming down. A majestic sentinel, it has stood guard between the street and my home for at least one hundred years before we moved here many years ago. Every year little spring beauties carpet the ground underneath its wide-spread branches, still unleafed after the long winter. A whole tribe of squirrels occupy it – an apartment complex for the bushy tailed. It is the tallest tree in the whole town, an outstanding picture of strength and solidity. From my vantage point by the bay window I have delighted in the broad canopy of green. Until now.

It is big. The first twelve feet up are four feet wide; the next fifteen feet are three feet across and it goes up from there. Thousands of pounds of solid oak stand there, and they are all coming down.

Three years ago it was that I saw a whole portion of the tree with leaves turned brown, hanging lifeless. What? What happened? Call the tree man! He came back to earth after scampering way to the top with pictures of what he found. A large vertical crack was clearly visible, indicating a hit by lightning, he said. Trees do not survive beyond three years after a hit, he said. “You will lose that tree,” he said. Then I remembered the angry storm which had crashed around us and an arrow of lightning cracking over our heads. Alarms were set off that night; everyone shook from the power of that bolt. We did not know it was the enormous oak that had been hit.

For many people that is not a big deal. For me, an incipient tree hugger, it was devastating. Each year since, I have watched as more and more of the tree succumbed. To lose a tree is to lose a living thing of great value. The beauty, shade, protection and habitat are part of that, but something else, hard to quantify, adds to the sense of loss. That tree has been part of years of history, has experienced ice, snow, sun and yes, lightning. It has traveled around the sun for at least two human life times, with good times and bad recorded in its core. Saying goodbye to such a wonderful living thing is like losing a very dear irreplaceable friend.

Yet replace it, I must. In my economy, when one tree comes down, at least one new one goes in. The best replacement, I am told, is no bigger than 2 inches in diameter with a huge root ball. This will give the new tree a better lease on life with faster growth later.
Two inches? Eight feet tall? That is the size of my lamp post, fr’evens sake. Sigh.

Tomorrow, the saws, the crane, the bucket trucks, the pick up trucks will all be here. And I will be standing by watching the end of a beautiful relationship. Somebody pass the tissues.

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