Death of a Tree

We had a freak storm this weekend. It dumped heavy snow on trees that had barely started to shed their leaves, much less settle in for the winter.

We had a freak storm this weekend. It dumped heavy snow on trees that had barely started to shed their leaves, much less settle in for the winter. Many of them couldn’t handle the strain and opted to drop entire branches rather than continue detaching their leaves the old fashion way. The big old oak on the back corner of our lot will be a shadow of its former self once the town removes its broken limbs, several of which are hanging on by a thread, draped over wires that control who-knows-what. I know the town will tend to the oak because they consider it their tree. They visit unannounced and lop off limbs when they do their peripatetic pruning.

One tree that most emphatically does not belong to the town is a pear tree Andrew planted about 10 years ago. He had created the beautiful garden berm that occupies the front corner of our property, far enough back to avoid damage from snowplows, but close enough to the street to provide the suggestion of screening. He designed the area, affectionately known to us as Worm Island, to accommodate a tree. The one he chose, which was delivered in a pickup truck, was around eight feet tall and had a heavy root ball. I know nothing about gardening, but if root balls are anything like puppies’ paws, it was obvious that this tree would be growing for a long time. With his brother’s help, they managed to wrangle it into the hole he prepared for it, and there it proudly stood – until this weekend.

That pear tree had grown to around thirty feet tall, though I confess we never measured it so perhaps I’m off by a few feet in one direction or the other. But it was a mature tree. It gave us shade, beautified our property, and reminded me how fortunate I am to have a husband who likes to get his hands in the dirt.

It only took a couple of hours of snow to cause the fatal splits, which have left it in three sections, each leaning in a different direction, each draped over wires that control who-knows-what, and us mourning its fate.

Across the line in Belmont, my in-laws lost an oak tree that chose to fall over rather than face the continued abuse of New England weather gone wild. My own parents, in Lexington, spent the night listening to branches cracking and falling onto their home and into their yard. The snow was a nuisance, but until the branches were cleared off their driveway they weren’t going anywhere anyway. Other towns closed school for the day, and some even canceled trick-or-treating. In the great scheme of things, I know we should be grateful, but in our little patch of the American Dream, we are distraught.

I expect that eventually someone official will come along and remove the limbs that are leaning on the wires that do who-knows-what. Perhaps it will even be the town, and if so, I will be grateful. In the spring my husband will plant a new tree. He and his brother are ten years older, so they may need to press others into service. Fortunately, our children are also ten years older, and they have been growing like… trees. They are strong and healthy and for that we are truly grateful.

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