Yesterday Jack and I had three trees removed in our yard. The first was a maple. It must have started from a seed that hitched a ride on the wind and planted itself too close to a large gum tree. Its limbs were twisted in strange directions from trying to reach the sun. This past spring, we noticed a termite infestation in the lower part of the trunk, and when we investigated, the trunk was nearly hollow.
The second was a large, old, wild cherry tree that had apparently been struck by lightning in years past. The top part of the central leader was gone, leaving a gaping wound that appeared rotten. The tree was in the back part of our lawn, closer to a neighbor's house than our own, and one of the large horizontal limbs that remained reached across the fence onto to their property. The neighbor had told me that several years ago, one of their own trees had blown over, doing a great deal of damage to their house, and they were nervous about this tree. We had an arborist look at it, and he thought the tree probably had a good deal of rot in the trunk.
The third was an old redbud growing near a pathway at the edge of a small grove of trees. When we moved into our house four years ago, the tree was leaning badly, but I was fond of the way its branches draped over the pathway, almost making an entrance to that part of the garden. Its gnarly, old trunk was riddled with holes and its bark was ragged. We considered taking it out last year because I was afraid it might fall one day and injure one of the grandsons who liked to play in that part of the lawn.
I was sad about having all these trees removed. I was sad that the maple never had a good shot at life but had made a valiant effort to grow where Mother Nature planted it. I was sad that the cherry would no longer provide food and sanctuary for the wildlife in our backyard. And I was sad that spring will arrive next year without the pink blossoms of the old redbud.
I think that one of the men in the crew realized how I felt about cutting down these trees because he came up to me just before they left and said, "I thought you might like to know that the wood from the cherry tree will be put to good use. Cherry gives a wonderful flavor to meat and I plan to take it home with me to use in my smoker." I can't tell you how pleased I was to hear that. I thought of the book "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein (if you haven't read this, you must). Like the tree in the book, that old, wild cherry will be giving for a little while longer.
I'll resume my discussion of solving drainage issues next time. Please forgive the digression.