Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eulogy for Five-and-a-Half Trees

There's something different about fall this year. Last fall I gave the OK for (to me) the unthinkable: I caved and agreed to have 5 huge poplar trees removed from our backyard. It's so sad to me to cut down a tree. I love trees. But these trees were a very unfortunate choice for a small city yard. They were planted about 15 years ago by the previous owner, who obviously also loved trees. She apparently just didn't realize the scope of these particular trees. Originally there were 6 trees; one died of natural causes about 5 years ago. And to make myself feel better about being a tree-murderer, I remind myself this species of tree is not long-lived: they were reaching the end of their existence. So it was more like euthanasia.

Every August the leaves would begin falling off these trees at an alarming rate. We would literally be knee-deep in leaves if we didn't rake feverishly from August through October. Mr. Magpie was in a bad mood for 3 months, and Magpie Jr. would do more complaining than raking until I dismissed him to save my own sanity (bad parenting, I know). We would spend an afternoon raking, and the next morning it looked like we had never been there.

Those trees were a thorn in our collective sides (to put it nicely), but the day the tree guys came was bittersweet. I remembered the sweet shade in the hot summer months that they gave us. I knew the climate of the backyard would be forever changed: all the shade-loving perennials I had planted over the years would now be stressed (and they were, this summer). The patio would now be in need of at least an umbrella to alleviate the heat (and it was, but I never got around to buying one). One thing I missed that I never thought of til it happened, was the sound of the breeze sifting through the treetops. The backyard was silent this summer.

Before I begin to weep at the thought of my favorite squirrels, who lost their homes, and the perplexed birds who found new places to roost, I will shift my thoughts back to the leaves, or lack thereof. And the neighbors on either side of us, who eyed those trees warily during wind storms. Even though our yard is fenced, those same neighbors raked their share of our leaves, not once complaining (at least not to our faces!). Since I do like both sets of neighbors, I can take comfort in their new leaf-free state.

We had a few estimates (okay more than a few) on the cost of removing these trees. Another reason for weeping, but never mind. Every one of the (very knowledgeable and experienced) tree guys shook their heads and tsked-tsked, implying that they were the wrong trees in the wrong place. So, I miss those trees, but realize it was all for the best. When I talk about planting new, more appropriate trees, Mr. Magpie turns white as a sheet and refuses to talk about it. Well, maybe someday when I find the perfect tree.


  1. Wow... Nice story... funny and sad too. Maybe you should plant something like a Christrmas tree type. And when it gets too tall, donate it to your city as a Christmas tree, they will cut it down themselves and haul it away too for free! I know that New York City looks for a tollest, fullest tree every year for the Rockofeller Center. And people just gift it to NYC. When I "grow up", I shell have a nice garden with some fruit trees, maybe. Aaaaaaaaah :)Anyway, thank you for a lovely story! i have a cute blog posting too. About me being stung by a bee for the first time ever. I hope you will like it. :)

  2. I empathise, Maggie - I love trees too! But comfort yourself with the lack of leaves for now, and hopefully Mr Magpie will forget soon and let you plant new ones!

  3. Thanks to you both for commenting on my poor trees!

    Maria, an evergreen tree sounds perfect. No leaves to rake!

    Angie, Yes I'll probably be replacing those trees sometime!


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