We are moving … 2 miles. (I use the numeral 2 instead of the word “two” so there is no misunderstanding.) Same city, same zip. We are staying in town, buying a new-to-us house. This is why there is a For Sale sign in our front yard as of this morning.
When we moved here eleven years ago it happened fast, and I didn’t get to say all my goodbyes. So I am starting today, with the maple tree that until Monday was in our backyard.
A crew came to take it down, limb by limb. Four or five guys, a couple of ladders and a cherry picker picked it apart. It took a couple of hours to dismantle something that took decades to grow.
Now there is only a stump, a large one, reminding me how grand this tree was. My favorite. My first maple. They don’t grow where I grew up. It was twice taller than the house, and its leaved turned in the fall—no small miracle for someone who grew up with only cedars and live oaks.
The tree died—though we didn’t know it—in the drought. We’d been homeowners before but not during an Exceptional Drought (official designation). We didn’t know to mulch it and give it extra water. I would have emptied out the dogs’ water bowl on it every day if I’d known.
A year or so ago we had the city come and trim it off the power lines, and I got my hopes up because as soon as that dead weight was gone, the maple sprouted fresh greenish-red shoots. It was a sign! I started dumping out the dogs’ water on it every day to help it along.
But it was too late for signs. The tree was dead. The new growth quickly withered. The trunk turned black in splotches, like some kind of tree plague. And we would have left it there, a blackening splotch, until we decided to sell the house. You can’t tell a potential buyer, “Pay no attention to the dead tree.”
So we took care of the problem. The problem was that a tree should never have earned such a label. The maple became a problem because of weather and ignorance.
Our new house has two small trees. I don’t yet know who they are. The neighborhood is heavily treed, just NIMBY. If there is another drought, which is likely, I’ll know how to care for these little ones.
The stump startled me this morning after bringing in the dogs from our walk. The tree never looked that big until it was cut down.
I poured out the dog’s water over what was left of the maple. Not a baptism, but a preparation of the dead, which in this case means neither burial not cremation but being ground into mulch. Feeding the other trees in the backyard long after we live 2 miles away.