Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Requiem for a Tree

We lost a tree a few weeks ago. The landlord was afraid that if it came down, it would hit our house. The tree folk who took it down agreed and said it was likely hollow/rotten at the core.

Now, anyone looking at our place would remark: How can you miss one tree? We have about six or seven ancient oaks that shade the whole property of two houses and a large garage/workshop. We have a wood on the south side that runs east to west for about a mile and is hundreds of yards deep. Oaks, hickories, elms, maples, pines, and many I cannot name are well represented. There are enough nuts for squirrels and some forage for deer. The wood straddles a ravine that runs the same way, and was PDB's gun range for several years. In the winter, with the leaves down and the brush fairly clear, he had a clear 30-40 yards across the ravine with a hill for a backstop.

So why this eulogy for one tree in the forest? This tree was a magnificent red oak. It stood on the edge of the woods and guarded our yard and an entrance to the woods. It had been there for many, many years. Before these buildings were here, the land was farmed. The tree stood on the head of a gentle slope, and any farmer can tell you that if you repeatedly plow or cultivate near the woods on a down-slope you will create a bank as the soil always runs down hill. The tree stood on a four-foot bank.

I called it the Sentinel Tree. Mathman put his archery targets at the base of the bank below the tree. He had a clear sight of about 60 feet. If you come down the drive and glance back at the woods, and don't look at the stump, you would never guess that that great tree was ever there. There are taller trees behind the stump. But this oak was massive. The stump is 42" across three feet above grade. And contrary to expert opinion, it was solid through. The landlord's son hauled off four logs, 8-10' long, to be sawn and milled. It yielded 36 to 40 feet of straight-grained red oak. I guess that's a good use for the Sentinel, but it was a healthy tree.

We came home from work one day and saw a guy climbing to the top of the tree, dropping ropes to a second guy, and taking the tree down a section at a time. When they dropped the upper trunk, it shook the house. The lower trunk was more massive, but it didn't have as far to fall. We just felt a shudder in the ground.

All around our part of NC trees are being sacrificed to the development gods. A local golf course in the city limits was sold. It was a big property, 27 holes, clubhouse, parking lot, lots of trees. All are gone. I saw some log trucks taking some of the trees, but most they burned. We had smoke in the air for weeks. Now there are condos in barren fields, and a few offices/light industrial buildings empty of tenants. The Ents wept for weeks.

I am not a tree hugger. I know my header declares I am Left Write Left. Trees grow; I just hate to see them go.

One more thing. I never expected that tree to be cut down. I never paid it that much attention. It was there guarding our yard and its woods. Things that we love, value, or just appreciate sometimes can only survive by someone else's whim. They hang by a thread; they may be destroyed at will, by accident, or by purpose. They are gone just the same.

BRB is Write (and misses the Sentinel Tree)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind Bruce, I just had my neighbour at the door at 8 am this Sunday morning, asking if he could drive an excavator through my yard to get to his yard!!!!

Now my dad has a yard full of trees and plants and yes- you have never seen anything like it in someone's back yard- but dad loved wild flowers and trees and ferns and believed in adding to his "footprint" saving the environment.

He never used chemicals either to weed or feed.

To go through the yard, with an excavator to get to his own yard, you can imagine the damage he would have to do!!!

I guess the guy thought I didn't care about all my dad's plans or even about the grass I have spent quite a bit trying to restore.

I recognize that the neighbour has a small yard, with big buildings that make it difficult for him to get something as large as an excavator through to his property, and yes it is a problem- but why should it be my problem?

To bug me like this and insult ny dad's ideas- and all of this at 8 AM on a Sunday morning.

Can't tell you what I think of this neighbour today!!!!

I only bought this house and moved here because this house meant a lot to my parents, and I have done it in their memory. You know how loyal I am to good friends, can you just imagine the loyalty I have to my parents who are no longer here?

It is so good for my soul to be able to walk around the yard and look at all the plants and trees that my dad's own hand put there.

What a fool my neighbour is, for sure.

Linda M-N

9:50:00 AM  
Blogger brbiswrite said...


What a surprise hearing from you on my blog! I thought only family members read this thing, and only when I told them I had added something, and the occasional stranger that wanders by.

I have a feeling that your neighbor thought that you were an easy mark. I seem to remember others that thought that also, to their ever lasting regret.

Good to hear from you again. Good luck with the neighbor.

You ought to try this blogging stuff. I'm sure you have some tales to tell!


9:32:00 AM  

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