Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You and Me, Under the Stink Tree

We have a massive tree in our backyard. It is, to quote an arborist, of "extraordinary girth," NTB, especially for a tree in a fenced-in yard of less than 200 square yards. If you saw the size and position of the tree and the position of our house and garage, you might feel nervous. I only feel nervous about it every once in a while.

When the tree guy came to see about our tree, he identified it as a Tree of Heaven. I was charmed by that name and got carried away thinking about how high it is and how cool it is to look up and see the sky through its leaves and how the shade it provides is heavenly. How many families, I wondered, have enjoyed its shade? How many kids played beneath it? There is a metal hook in the side of the tree, about fifty feet up. It may have been placed there the last time the tree was trimmed, but I prefer to think that it served some purpose (hook for hanging basket? foot hold to reach tree house?) for the tree's "owners" many years ago and then grew with the tree. Our house was built in the 1890s, but I even wonder did the tree precede the house? I'm telling you it is a really big and really old tree. Then, I start to wonder what my neighborhood looked like before there were houses 2-3 feet from each other on a perfect grid for miles and miles . . .

But, back to my Tree of Heaven. After the tree guy identified it for us, I did a wee bit of research. I learned that it is also called a "stinktree" (ours doesn't, for the record), that it is not a native tree, and that it is targeted for removal in many national forests because it gives off toxins or something that keep other trees and plants from growing as they should. Basically, our yard is dominated by an enormous exotic weed.

Our tree got a haircut today. Three guys spent several hours with ropes and a bucket truck trimming dead branches and those live ones too close to the roof of the garage and to the power lines. I was so impressed with the daring and technique it requires to keep trees healthy. Very impressive. When I looked outside the back window two hours before I was supposed to be hosting Bub's preschool class for a playdate/pizza party, our entire yard (and part of our neighbors') was covered in tree branches and leaves. Just a wee bit nervous, but everything was cleaned up in plenty of time.

The highlights of the party: sunshine, warm breeze, and parents and kids hanging out under the heavenly shade of our stinktree.


CaraBee said...

What a lovely post!

We have two enormous oak trees in our front yard, one towering over each of the two bedrooms on the second floor, something I think about from time to time. Especially in a big storm. When we had sewer line problems a couple of years ago, there was the threat that we would have to cut them down to fix the problem. I was heartbroken. I love these big trees. They are the biggest on the block and provide great shade and ambiance for our home.

Having said that, those bad boys kick off leaves from October to January. We must do up hundreds of bags of leaves. No exaggeration. It's a trade-off, for sure.

cake said...

can we see photos of this tree.

the party sounds lovely, btw.

Actchy said...

I'm thinking of Betty Smith.

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