For thirty-one years the stately lady, the queen of trees along the woods at the back of our century-old farmhouse stood. Her leafy bows reached fifty feet high and offered welcome shade in the heat of summer, especially over the back porch, which later became the back deck. Her Majesty was far older than we will every know, unless we count her rings, and that’s not likely. However, estimates put her age at around one hundred and fifty minimum.
Like all things that grow old, time took its toll, along with storms and wind damage. Decades of insidious rot began to erode a crevice.
Years ago, after a micro-burst twisted and tore off a large limb, the tree man, who cut away the debris, said the tree would re-balance itself. At the time, he recommended we have the old lady chopped down. After all, there was the possibility (not the certainty) that the tree would come down in a storm and land on our house.
Well, I was adamant. No way did the tree have to be chopped down—yet. My reasoning was that the wind’s usual direction would fell the tree away from the house. So the tree stood another decade before another big branch came down. This time the spire of the tallest branch was like a flag. And in the tree re-balancing itself this time, the top twisted so that if sufficient wind came along, that spire-branch could tip the entire tree over and onto the house.
Only what really rang the death knell for the old tree was the snake taking up residence in the rotted hollow at the base of the trunk. I dislike snakes, and especially those that find their way into my house.
So, on June 3, the tree man came and cut off the branches. At day’s end, only the trunk remained. The next day, the tree man came with his giant saw and made the final cuts. With a push from his log-tractor, the giant stump was pushed over, and slid down the hill into the woods.
Saying goodbye, and watching the tree being denuded, then cut down to a stump was a sad thing. I know the sunlight now spilling onto the void will allow some of the Old Lady’s offspring to grow and mature—and renew the shade. There are other trees, too, that will benefit and eventually add more shade for our house and deck.
Yet, there is still the matter of the stump.
Like previous stumps of trees that had to be cut down, it’s my excuse to set potted plants or flowers out on the stump. Or is putting color among the rubble of what had been a towering maple more like setting out a funeral spray, a gesture of sympathy at the loss of a forest queen?
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