Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maple Tree No More

Our overgrown Norwegian Maple.
When we moved into our house back in aught-one, the maple tree between our house and the neighbor’s house was a nice small shade tree. Since then it has grown, as trees are wont to do, and cracked our concrete and is breaking through the little box it was planted in. It also dumps leaves in our gutters and pretty much makes a mess with flowers and samaras all year. Still it was difficult for me to accept that it needed to be removed. Learning that it is an invasive species called Norway Maple—why do we allow stores to sell invasives? made it a little easier.

Still, I have a fondness for maple trees. When we were kids, we had a large maple tree (not sure which variety) that stood in our front yard. It was an inviting tree with a wide trunk and one low hanging branch that I could reach by holding on to the girth of the tree, wedging a foot against it and springing up. It had many big branches, one of which supported a rope swing. It was a second home to four monkeys and often hosted neighboring monkeys as well.

Little Amy, tree climbing monkey extraordinaire.
I have many warm memories of hanging out in that tree. I felt utterly safe and untouchable there. My imagination ignited, as I pressed knots blasting our spaceship to the moon. Later in life, Dad told me he would cringe and look away as I slipped through the tree branches and jumped to grab the rope and shimmy down.  I think about how easy it would have been for him to forbid me to climb, because my antics scared him, but I'm forever grateful he didn't.  None of us ever fell out or were otherwise hurt, and it's central to many of my favorite childhood memories.

I remember Tellis Lawson climbing the tree with us and falling out, landing flat on his back with his wind knocked out. He was the last grown-up to attempt climbing with us. My brother carved our initials in one of the scaffold branches. We once tied a yellow rope from the maple to the neighboring conifer, cedar perhaps, I don't quite remember. We tried to slide, zip-line style, but found we had the angle wrong and that the rope wasn't slippery enough. So we modified the angle and applied a lubricant (butter) and whee!

I remember the boys peeing out of the tree and being a little envious that I had to climb down go into the house to relieve myself. Once my step-brother, Lew, was sick, and then there was our dog patrolling the understory performing clean-up duty...

I watched the ants march up the bark, watched the daffodils push-up through the packed earth every spring, while I waited for leaves, then watch them turn yellow and fall. No wonder I felt like crying when my step-cousin Johnnie Lee told me, “Amy, they cut down our tree!” Apparently the old tree had to be put down due to some variety of rot. Sigh.

 This morning, Jose from NW Tree Specialists arrived bright and early. He asked me, “Which tree is it?” I brought him over. He nodded, retrieved his pole saw and fired it up. Zing, zing, zing. Down fell the branches one by one. Once, I wondered if a branch would fall on the neighbor’s car, I needn't have worried, Jose put in a face and back cut then it plopped down on the concrete safe and sound.

Berzo and I pulled up chairs a safe distance away and watched. Neighbors popped in and out to discuss the happenings. Soon the arborists fired up their chipper and BBRRRRRUUMMM, the hungry machine ate everything they fed it. The noise sent Berzo under her blanket.

I was a nervous for Jose when she shimmied up our tree and with his chainsaw and limbed the rest of it from there. He had a flair for showmanship, as he grabbed a branch with one hand, had the saw running in the other, then whipping the huge branches away just as the saw came through. Then his helper hauled them and fed them to the machine. About a dozen big trailer loads of material disappeared in there.

Finally all that stood was a naked trunk. Then that was felled too, with efficient precision. The two men raked up the leaves and brought out a leaf blower, leaving the driveway cleaner than before they arrived.

In all, in about forty-five minutes a large tree was reduced to four small rounds and a truck full of chips. I thanked Jose and his helper and they roared out of our neighborhood, and that was that.
So empty.


I called Charley to let him know it was all done and the arborists did a great job. Then I asked, “Can I plant a flowering dogwood there instead? They stay little are are super pretty in the spring.”

“I'm not sure that spot is great for a tree.”

“But, but…”

“Can I at least see it first?”

“Oh yeah, sure, sorry.”

"I speak for the trees!"

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