Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Amy by a giant redwood stump.

I read in the news today about a massive elm tree in Yarmouth Maine named Herbie, and that having lost a battle with Dutch elm disease finally had to be cut down. Herbie was estimated to be 110 feet tall and more than 200 years old, and when his 10 ton trunk was toppled, the ground shook.
For whatever reason, it is always sad to me when a tree has to go. I think of the history that has occurred in the tree’s lifetime, and the fact that what takes nature years and years to do, people can undo in a matter of minutes.
My family and I have lived in three houses now where a tree had to be cut down. At our current house it was not a sad event. There was a spruce in the front yard that was dead when we moved in and therefore unsightly and dangerous. Removing it made the front yard look better and also allowed more light to reach several old maple trees near it.
Our first house, in Western New York, was situated on a couple acres with many trees. On a clear summer day, with not a cloud in the sky, a bolt of lightening came down and struck an ash tree in the backyard. Tragic yes, but it was the freakishness of it more than anything. My daughter was around two years old at the time and we’d put up a swing for her in that very tree. What really makes me shudder is that moments before the lightening hit my husband was about to take her out to swing! Needless to say, that tree had to go as well, split in two when struck.
The ash tree.

The one tree that we really hated to lose, and put off cutting down as long as possible was a huge box elder at our second house. This tree was old and beautiful and the perfect climbing tree for kids and grown ups alike. It even had a burl on one side that looked like a bear climbing up the trunk. But box elders don’t age well, and this tree showed signs of rot. Once, when the Ellensburg wind was really howling, and we left town to temporarily escape it, I’d joked that wouldn’t it be ironic that if while we were gone something happened to the tree. Well it had!! A limb, almost the size of a regular tree, had broken off and fallen across the road in front of our house and the city had to come with some huge piece of equipment and clear it away. Thank goodness no one was walking or driving by at the time!
After that it was only a matter of time until the dreaded phone call was made. The day the tree company came I didn’t stick around to watch. It was too heart breaking. And when the tree was gone there was just so much empty space, both out in the yard and in our hearts.
Amy with a family friend up in the box elder.

For every tree we’ve lost, we’ve planted something in its place—another tree, a shrub, or some flowers in the new patch of sun that now shines through. In this way, these gentle giants though gone, aren’t ever really forgotten.


  1. Oh I do love this post, because I love trees! Growing up with a forest behind me may have helped, but I love them. We have a huge beech tree in the front garden, I call him (yup!) The Owl Tree, you may have seen hinm in some of my blog posts. He has a feel of wisedom which comes from old trees. They really have a personality don't they. Love the photos! suzie. xxx

  2. Hi there, I found you on Suzie's blog and thought I'd take a peek! We recently had quite a few trees removed for safety reasons - some were dead and some were hanging over our house and lose branches often in storms (gum trees). A new law allowed us to remove them without a permit, following the awful bushfires last year. I love the light that floods into our house now and how safe I feel when the wind picks up. Sad that they had to go though.