This Old Tree

Dunkirk NY



A couple of weeks ago, before the snow started falling, we had a few severe windstorms. One of those windstorms ripped a branch down from a large tree in my back yard. The tree has been on the property since I moved in 30 years ago, and it is truly a magnificent tree. It provides a great deal of shade, and it’s home to one or two squirrel nests. Best of all, it was a mystery tree; no one has been able to identify exactly what kind of tree it is. It appears to be unique to the area. But once the branch ripped off, I feared that the time may have come to have it removed. So I called in the tree surgeon for a diagnosis.

Sure enough, the tree was beyond saving. There are gaping wounds in the tree, and the bark around the trunk is blackening. It’s also threatening the new screened-in porch on the back of my house, as one of the heaviest limbs hangs over it. The leaves clog the gutters in the fall. So it has to go. It looked like it was going to go this past Friday, but the tree company had a breakdown of their equipment and couldn’t make it. It remains in the backyard, awaiting its fate.

I’ll miss this old tree. My kids climbed up in it, of course. It was a great tree under which to sit or put out a screenhouse before we had the new permanent one built. Its mysterious identity gave it a noble and majestic feel, and was a great conversation starter. It’s been a fixture in my family’s life since we moved here. But like everything under the sun, its time has arrived.

I sense in this event the foreshadowing of my own demise. One wonders how the end will present itself. A fall which breaks a few bones? A sudden “coronary episode?” A slow wasting away? Loss of brain function?

I suspect I will plant a new one, which is the most organic response I can have to the removal of the old one. And that’s how it goes in this world – out with the old, in with the new. The cycle of life must be respected and honored. Does one really have a choice?

I think a nice red maple, a little further out in the back yard, where it will have room to expand and grow. One with good branch potential, for the next family that will inhabit this old house. -twl


Update 12/22/17 – The tree is no more.