My neighbor of many years bit the dust on Thursday, Sept. 29. She had been here longer than I, of course – over one hundred years, I was told when I asked.
She wasn’t a beauty, not shapely, just huge – in every direction. She had carbuncles and occasional holes, branch flagging and protruding roots.
And she had long (what they call) “suckers” at the base of her trunk. They created what looked like a big bush. I’d occasionally call Forestry to have them trimmed, as they prevented seeing traffic coming our way from down the street.
And she had many “carbuncles” – oh, they’re called burls in tree talk, but they were carbuncles to me.
But she housed birds and squirrels and fluttered silver in the winds.
She put oxygen into the air around her and she shaded us all.
She had even intertwined her very highest branches with those of our big elm 40’ away and the horse chestnut across the street – as if they were dear, old friends, which I imagine they really were.
Nevertheless, it made us all sad to watch her coming down.
There never is any notice – no big sign announcing, no memorial wreath around the trunk, just “Tree work – no parking” signs.
It took seven men and five trucks – two huge cranes and, of course, a chopper trailer among them – to do this job. It took more than half a day. I watched and photographed for a long time, even though it was very noisy and I usually run from chainsaws and choppers.
It began at the top, of course, with the tallest crane – a small man in the cherry picker, probably chosen because of his weight. And the branches fell and fell.
As the crew worked lower, the cherry picker man and another, flying upwards seemingly free form, looking like a circus by-your-teeth performer, fastened the bigger branches with a cable so they could be controlled on their way to the street.
There, they were stacked carefully by the cable driver, lengthwise in such a way as to still allow a single car to pass, only if necessary. Sometimes the two cranes acted in concert.
Moving down, and as the branches got heavier, the chainsaw blades got longer and the cuts took longer.
The crew would sit for a minute and oil their saws. Eventually, the ”jaws” moved in to help. The saw would buzz, the jaws would pull and the huge trunk would part, seemingly easily. The fattest pieces were lifted by the jaws and placed carefully into a very large open truck.
And then it was gone.
I called Forestry for an explanation of the tree’s removal. Here is what I was told by Stephen Walker, Director of Forestry: “That tree had several issues, and we did a full evaluation before removing it.
“The mushroom in the picture is an indication of wood decay. Above that is a hollow cavity that jeopardizes the integrity of the trunk.
“There were a couple more cavities in the upper half of the tree as well. Where you see the truck grabbing the lead (in the photo) is also hollow. My best guess is that this tree is about 100-yearsold. And we hate to remove them – however, when we analyze the path of destruction if it fails, it leaves us no other choice.”
Farewell, big girl.