Thursday, March 29, 2007


When we first moved in to our home we loved all of the trees on the property. We were moving from the country in to the 'burbs and knew we would need some trees to comfort us. In our usual family fashion we went just a bit overboard. Using a quick count in my head, our lot contained about 25 trees. Many of those trees were full grown trees. A handful were markedly taller than our two story colonial and gave our property that feeling of having been solidly here for quite awhile. We even put up a rope swing for the boys on the one level branch in the whole yard. They loved to swing out over the sandbox, pretending to fly over all sorts of wonderful lands, creating whole stories with their friends as they went. It soon became apparent however that our love for all of those trees was transient at best.

It took us just a few months here to realize that the trees had overtaken the yard. When we got an up close and personal look at the bushes surrounding the house we realized the former owners had never met a pair of pruning shears. And then we realized they could have cared less if an ounce of sun ever hit the dirt anywhere in the yard. Moss grew well here, grass not so much. Something had to change. My Dad and I plotted our campaign and soon everyone else was on board.

We started small at first. Younger trees that were being crowded out came down. Trunks less that six inches across were growing mere feet from the foundation and had to go before they got bigger. The initial thinning also took out several bushes, some evergreens that hid the lights on the house, and opened up the other garden areas that were overgrown. The second round a few years later took out some trees that weren't so healthy and needed to come down to let others grow tall and strong. A blue spruce, growing majestically behind the house was pushing on the foundation so it came down, too. Then there was a lull in the need to deforest our yard. Things settled down, some grass was growing, and even though the tetherball court included some errant branches, we trimmed them out of the way as needed. Life was as peaceful as it could get in a lot in the middle of the 'burbs, filled with boys and their toys. Then I married Don.

Don came with more knowledge than we had previously put to use. Apparently, trees with hollow trunks that towered over a house really needed to come down no matter how much shade their leaves provided. We said goodbye to the most majestic tree on the lot. I was sad to see it go but oh how the front yard looked so much bigger without it! At the same time an obnoxious, dirty tree by the drive came down. It was amazing how much cleaner our cars were that year. And then he set his sights on the tree with the rope swing. The children flung themselves in front of the tree screaming "NO" as loud as their little lungs could muster. The newbie Dad relented and they gladly swung their way through a few more good seasons until the rope finally gave way.

This past fall we took at good look at that tree. It had a large wound that had happened early in life and it had weakened the tree. It had also been strangled early on and the lower part of the trunk was smaller than the upper part. We began to plot its demise as well. The boys begged for another year. We watched it weather the winter and talked about how we might save it. We listened as it creaked and cracked in the winter winds and we wondered if it would benefit from a tree surgeon who might be able to fix it for us. And then reality hit.

This tree towered over the back yard, kept grass from growing over a good quarter of the only usable space back there. The sandbox rarely dried out because the sun didn't get to touch it after the leaves sprouted on the branches above it. And those leaves... we could really do without all of those leaves come fall. The winds began to shift. The tree needed to come down. Why put all of that money in to saving it when we then would throw even more money in the yard hoping to kill the moss and grow a few precious blades of fresh, green grass? No, the tree was coming down.

And today it did. It took less that 30 minutes. The sun is shining on the sandbox. How amazing is that?

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