Trees are as close to immortality as the rest of us ever come

We suffered a loss here at the Church Sweet Home estate, and it hit me harder than I expected.

We cut down three mostly dead Chinese elm trees on our property line last month. Well, to be specific, we had them cut down by the pros. Removing 65-foot-tall trees is not for amateurs unless you’re interested in starring in stupid idiot videos involving chainsaws and house disasters.

fallen tree
Our tree, iced.

We knew they were mostly dead. During an ice storm earlier this year, one of the trees split nearly in half. The branches clogged up the driveway next door, and that’s when we understood we needed to take drastic action. Before some fallen branches clipped a car. Or a person.

So, Tyler called a tree guy, and he diagnosed the trees as kaput. I suspect he was a little like a surgeon who fixes every malady with a scalpel, but we didn’t have any holistic remedies at the ready. So chainsaw it was.

The project required two days, four trucks (some with buckets) and at least six guys. Strange weather befell us, and the men worked through sunshine, clouds, rain and snow. They started at the top of the trees, which towered far above the top of our belfry, and worked their way to the ground.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yes. It sounds like a chainsaw and feels like an earthquake. The church literally shuddered when the trunks were felled. I shuddered, too.

The tree guys knew what they were doing. Our trees were removed without incident.

tree getting cut up
Where mulch comes from.

Except to the trees. Which were essentially massacred. The trunks were cut into pieces and hauled away to be used for pallets, we were told. The branches were turned into chips, mulch for someone’s yard maybe.

Chinese elm is a rapid-growing species native to eastern Asia. It is highly resistant to Dutch elm disease (which killed off three-quarters of all American elms in North America). It wasn’t disease that killed off our trees. It was just age. And ice, I guess, which is problematic for the older set who is a little unsteady on their feet, too.

tree stump
Eventually we’ll dig out these stumps, too.

When the tree guys finished their work, I inspected the remaining stumps in a way I had never looked at the trees in the first place. I didn’t appreciate them when they were around. I was sort of sad. I counted 70 rings in the stumps, so they were planted about the same time the church underwent a major renovation to build a new entryway and move the altar from the east side of the sanctuary to the north side. The ’40s must have been a good decade for the Methodists here. Renovations like that take money, which in the church world, required enthusiastic members.

Our yard, even without the spindly leafless branches, looks weirdly naked without our dying Chinese elms. Of course, it doesn’t help that the gray of early spring casts a pall on the entire landscape.

I suppose the trees lived a good life and died a good death. But I miss them.

trees cut before
Here is how our trees looked while the men were working on them (I don’t have a good picture of them with leaves from this angle).
trees cut after
And here’s how our side yard looks now.

# # #

Today’s headline is a quote from American author Karen Joy Fowler. She is best known as the author of the best-selling novel The Jane Austen Book Club that was made into a movie. 

Advertisements

What middle age does to a woman

Our story so far: My husband and I bought an old Methodist church with the intent of converting it into our dream home. Weeks of demolition revealed the bones, and now we were working on mechanicals like plumbing and electrical.

# # #

Chapter 13

Besides playing office as a child, I treasured my Fashion Plates. Fashion Plates was an artsy toy from the late 1970s that allowed you to design your own fashions with interchangeable plates embossed with outlines of shirts, skirts and pants. The young artist, or designer, would rub the embossed shapes to get the outlines, then color in the clothes with fashionable colored pencils. Voilà! A new fashion design! I was a fashion designer!

When I began earning money by babysitting, nearly every dollar went into my fall shopping fund. I pored over magazines and catalogs, spent days shopping at malls to find the trendiest fashions and created details plans of what I would wear every day to impress my rivals at school.

I grew into a 5-foot-10 woman who could pull off a wide variety of looks, and I filled every closet I ever owned to overflowing with my fashionista finds.

But when I turned 50 and acquired a muffin top and wrinkles, spending money on beautiful clothes and dressing my aging body became, well, less satisfying. It became clear I could no longer pull off miniskirts and sleeveless tanks and body-skimming shapes.

So maybe that’s why I became transfixed with dressing my home. I enjoyed the creative thrill of combining various pieces into a unique look, and when I showed it off, I didn’t have to suck in my gut.

# # #

Tomorrow: How to create a style guide for your home. Read about it here.