Monday, December 4, 2017

A History of Trees

Often it takes the long view to see a pattern that has developed in your life.  One of the instances I've recently discovered is the ebb and flow of trees in our life.  When we bought our first home in Modesto, CA back in 1986, the house was part of a new development.  It had a zero property line and a single newly planted tree in the middle of the front yard.  Our first encounter with city employed tree trimmers a few years later was not nice.

They appeared on our cul-de-sac one morning and proceeded to seriously trim all the trees.  Since our tree had been a slow starter and was finally in a place where it could cast some shade, I asked the men if they wouldn't cut the tree back too hard.  This seemed like a reasonable request but maybe not.  That evening when I returned from work, our tree had been butchered so that only one leafy branch remained.  Considering the more pleasing appearance of the other trees around us, I concluded that it was deliberately done.  

Fast forward to 1998 - another house, another town, and other trees.  Our house came with three patio size Crepe Myrtles in the front yard.  One was in sad shape, so I coaxed it along but come spring, she was clearly gone.  Out came the tree but then, by the end of summer, one surviving root had reached up to gain the sunlight.  Nineteen years later, we still had the two surviving patio Crepe Myrtles AND one bushy little myrtle cheerfully growing beside them, year after year.

Mimosa trees are abundant in our old neighborhood and birds kindly scatter their seed everywhere.  One volunteered right in the middle of our front sidewalk in an open area that originally held a yard lamp.  Pretty as it was, the danger of concrete damage hovered at about 100%.  The bigger that tree would get, the more the damage to our sidewalk would increase.  So, out it went.  

Later I planted a curly willow in the backyard.  Considering the smallness of the backyard, planting the willow there wasn't a smart choice.  Add to that a decorative cobblestone patio and it would be just a matter of time before the roots uplifted the brick, ruining the design.  Taking that tree down was really painful.  It was gorgeous.  What I didn't think about at the time were the nesting birds.  I certainly did for the next many days as mourning doves lived up to their name from the back fence and the eaves of our house.  

All of our tree encounters, up to this point, were spaced very widely apart.  However, now we are in the Bootheel and things have changed up considerably.  First of all, we knew, based on photos, that the house we bought, had trees.  What we didn't know is that the lot was like a private park.  Oh. The. TREES.  In our first six months here, we have cut back the trees invading our roof, trimmed back all of the foliage surrounding the house, have had one dead tree removed, and have had a really big branch from a neighbor's tree fall and take out about 20 feet of fencing.   Our favorite local tree service rescued us from the mess.  And the fencing company that originally put it in 20 years earlier came back and fixed it.  We were living in interesting times.

But, wait.  It's not over yet.  Mid- November, one of the backyard trees uprooted.  Tall and skinny, it turned out to be a volunteer from a root that found its way to the surface. Perfectly placed, it found enough sunlight to grow into the lower branches of the tree next to it.  However - the root system was fairly shallow and this was the year it decided to uproot. But it didn't fall.  It leaned over into the other trees, held there securely, waiting for the next big wind to bring it down.  Gone would be another fence and perhaps even another tree.  Tree service to the rescue again and at the same time, they also trimmed the rest of the trees making them safe for the next many years. The backyard is now looking pretty barren but, hey, it's almost winter.

I have to tell you, I never, ever knew that trees could be so demanding.  I love trees.  The birds and critters we love, love trees.  The very AIR we breathe loves trees.  But, wow, they sure are high maintenance.



    I was so glad to read your article about the trees. I went to Phoenix several years ago. The desert is beautiful in its own way, but I didn’t realize just how much I missed all my big, beautiful trees.

  2. You got that right! We have recently had two enormous (bigger then our house) trees cut down. By necessity. I still mourn them. I'm sure the yellow bellied sapsucker that sapped our tree dry with a zillion holes mourns them too. You have had more tree problems than most. WHAT does a curly willow look like..I am Googling it, can't wait to see. Willow weep for me.

  3. I don't think I have ever seen one before. Even the branches are curly! Gorgeous!!


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