Comes The Woodsman

The Woodsman has come to do his dirty work, and I am not at all happy about it.

Sort of an Anti-Lorax (a Dr. Seuss reference for those too young to know), the Tree Man was called to my property to remove some trees. We have had this happen before. I recall that there may have been over twenty trees on my under-half-acre of suburbia when we moved here. We picked this neighborhood because it was full of big old stately trees that made it clear that this was no cornfield when homes were built late in the Eisenhower Administration. But just like the Eisenhower Administration, too many of them have become history.

The first to go was a dead maple by the road. A guy knocked on the door and kept going lower on his bid until I could no longer resist him, and given that it was a relatively small tree far away from anything it could damage his (likely) lack of insurance did not concern me.

Then there were two or three silver maples across the back of the house. More sun, less shade but necessary as they were dying. I almost forgot about the nasty gnarled apple tree that looked like it had actually caught on fire once. Out it went, and along with it the annual piles of rotting apples full of bees.

But those were the easy ones. Later ones got harder, like the hickory that had to be 120 feet tall. It died suddenly after a drought and had to go given its proximity to the bedroom where we sleep.

But time is now up for two trees that Marianne has had it in for. There is the Bradford pear tree that was quite small when we moved in. It has gotten huge and oddly shaped. Everyone says it will split in two but it never has. An ounce of prevention is Marianne’s motto, and the BP is going to become firewood. I will miss that one.

There is also a sweet gum next to the driveway. It is close to power lines and has been disfigured by the power company’s crews . It also drops those miserable spikey things into the yard and on the driveway by the hundreds. But it shades the driveway and turns beautiful colors in the fall. And you can’t discern the horrible shape from the side that faces our house.

Why do I hate losing trees? Maybe because it seems that anything that takes so long to get so big should be saved. Maybe because I like the atmosphere that big, established trees give our home. I am less enamored of cleaning leaves out of gutters. But there is a price for the good things in life.

I have been derelict in planting new trees over the years to replace those that have gone away. Hindsight tells me that if I had replaced each one when it came down I would have some fairly nice big trees by now. But I did not, for one reason or another, and here we are.

I went home after work on the day that the woodsman did his dirty work. Woodsmen, actually, because many hands make light woodwork. Or something like that. I hate the way my house looks now. But maybe that is just my grief over newly missing trees.

This time I vow to replace them. I want something that will grow big and tall and strong. OK, and will not drop gobs of “tree trash” in the lawn every year. But even then, they will take a long time to replace what we have lost.

Photo Credit: Photo from odestreet.com under a CC 3.0 Attribution license.

18 thoughts on “Comes The Woodsman

  1. I feel your pain about trees. When my Dad got transferred from Chicago to Milwaukee in the mid 60’s, our neighborhood and most around it had very large stately Elms planted on both sides of the streets, and met like cathedral ceilings overhead as you looked down the block. I remember walking to grade school and feeling just wonderful looking up at the trees. Within a few years, they were all torn down, victims of Dutch Elm disease! Even 50 years later, if I drive through there, whatever the city replaced them with, have never reached the height nor impact, never the same. Our families main house we lived in for most of our lives, was built just post WWII in an orchard that used to be in the Western x-urbs of Milwaukee (now of course, well in the city). The original builder left an apple and pear tree in the yard. My Dad used to pick both apples and pears to make fresh pies, until the pear was invaded by carpenter ants that were spreading out over the neighborhood and had to be taken down. By the time I moved back from Washington DC after my Dad died to be with my Mom, the apple was on it’s last legs as well, never well maintained by my parents. When she passed and we sold the house, the inspector recommended to the new owner to take it down. I haven’t driven past the house since it passed from out family, I don’t want to know…..

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    • My first house was in an older part of the city (Broadripple, for those familiar with Indianapolis) and the street was lined with huge sugar maples that were probably planted pre WWII. The one in my yard had to have been 120 feet. It got a big crack down the trunk in a windstorm. A tree guy recommended a repair with 2 rods through the trunk and cables up above to keep it together, as it was otherwise quite healthy. Some years later I was driving by and it was gone. I always wondered if someone saw the hardware and panicked, or maybe the tree finally developed other problems.

      Maybe I love them so much because the house where I grew up sprouted from a cornfield, along with all the other white-aluminum-sided ranch houses in that neighborhood.

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  2. The neighborhood I grew up in experienced a terrible storm in the 90s that claimed probably a third of the trees. It was crazy to go back home after the cleanup and see how barren everything looked. It still hasn’t recovered.

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  3. Tall trees are the result of years of hard work. Perhaps it’s difficult to see their hard work go by the wayside.

    We’ve got a mixture of trees at our place (oak, elm, cedar, dogwood, redbud, even a persimmon) but I need to thin the herd. The invasive bush honeysuckle (now eradicated on the front half of the place) has really worked the cedars over, having choked out their sunlight, leaving them oddly barren for most of their height. When I removed the honeysuckle, I discovered some cedars were dead and others were so bad they had to go; one is leaning at a 30 degree angle from horizontal from trying to escape the honeysuckle. Then the elm by our back door is slowly deteriorating, as is another beside the lower driveway.

    So far I’ve been able to take them down myself, even the gargantuan dead redbud. Like you, I detest seeing them go, even when it is for the survival of the others.

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    • Speaking of invasive species, I meant to mention….in many locales those Bradford Pears are also classified as being an invasive species. Not sure where Indianapolis falls into that, but I had to shed light on it.

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      • The Bradford pear is on that invasive pest Do Not Plant list in Indiana too. There was a time when almost every suburban house had one of them in the front yard. Between getting rid of that and a ton of honeysuckle in back, we have become quite the environmentalists. 🙂

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  4. We made the mistake of planting locust trees in the back yard when we bought our house. They were great for the first 10 years because they grew so fast, but by last year we’d had it. They were over the pool, over the house, dropping little leaves and sticks and beans. So we got a tree company in to brutally trim them back.

    One guy refused to do it, saying “trees are like your children, you can’t cut their legs off if you don’t like them growing up”.

    However, I don’t think trees are like my children so we had the entire canopy cut back by 70%. I give them 50/50 odds of survival, locusts haven’t budded here yet but there is a 100% chance of them looking terrible for several years.
    On the plus side, in our neighboring municipality taking down a tree requires consultation with the city arborist and a permit, no matter where the tree is on your property. Here I can just say “I don’t like my tree” and it’s gone…

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    • Yes, trees = children is going a bit far. I like big trees, but not that much. We have no such governmental restrictions here either.

      It appears I have a couple more that may need to go, both out back. One doesn’t bother me, but the other is one of a pair of ash trees that grows right outside of our living room window, that faces the back yard at a 2nd story height. The emerald ash borer has struck. I had them treated, but apparently too long ago. The other one seems to be OK. For now.

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  5. People who owned my house (before I bought it in 2013) were very wise to plant this row of arbor vitae evergreens I believe some time in the early 1990s. The trees do a very good job of screening our yard from the street. They started out small and are now quite thick and tall. I wonder how big they’ll get! (And I hope they stay healthy!)

    Back Yard

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  6. At least you were able to choose between keeping or letting go. Here in the Rocky Mountain states we endure the wrath of bark beetles every seven years or so. They kill a tree slowly, from the inside out, and the next thing you know the county is tagging your tree and you have to have it removed. It’s incredible how much damage these little guys can do in the forest.

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  7. I feel your pain. I had to have 11 extremely tall ash trees removed ten years ago at great expense, all in the same year, as the ash borer disease had struck, as did many of my neighbours. They were here when the subdivision was built in the late 60’s, but we still have a variety of old established trees in the neighbourhood. Afterwards, my backyard looked way too bare, but I’ve grown used to it and the sunny space is better for gardening. I still have one big maple my dad planted from a seedling from his bush 30 years ago which has reached a nice shade size, and I am surrounded by two enormous maples from two different neighbours lots. Both appear healthy but the third (dead) maple which was on a lot line, fell on the other neighbours deck and ended up in a legal dispute over insurance. So now whenever there’s a strong north wind I get a little anxious, as it lines up with my bedroom, but it’ is a nice tree and I can see why the neighbours don’t want to spend $4000 (the last estimate) taking it down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ash borer reached us about 7-10 years ago. I knew people who had several and lost them all.

      And legal disputes happen. Here, if an owner has reasonable notice that a tree is dead or unsafe, he can be liable for the damage it might cause if it falls.

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      • The dead tree was on the lot line, (which wouldn’t be allowed now but it’s an old subdivision), one neighbour wanted it down, the other couldn’t afford it, so it fell on the yard of the person who wanted it down of course in a strong west wind in the middle of the night (I heard the thud), just grazing the side of the house and demolishing the deck. They were lucky no one was injured. The dispute came as the tree cleanup costing $2000 is apparently not covered by insurance, although damage to the house and deck was, something I did not know.

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  8. We had Carpenter Ants and had to have two large Oak trees removed from the back yard, then a Locust trees from the front yard. Luckily the landscape ties were wolmanized and did not need to be removed, but every piece of Redwood bark had to be removed and replaced with cypress. It was a pain. Marianne is right about those Bradford Pear trees. They shoot up like crazy and are prone to splitting in two. My neighbor had two of them. One was diseased and she hated to take it down as it complemented the second Bradford Pear which were planted on City property the same time. We had a 39 mph wind come through one November and it split the “good” tree in half and it landed inches from my light pole out front. During that windstorm, my metal shed blew over and tumbled across the yard and broke apart. Wait ’til after the cicada invasion to plant small new trees (which are more susceptible than larger, established trees) or be prepared to cover the new trees in netting.

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