It was an old and overgrown tree diagonally across from our house. When I walked all the way up to the resting trunk, it rose to my shoulder height making it about 4 feet or rather approximately 1.2 meters. Most of the houses on our block were built in the 1950s and 1960s, this tree either was planted at that time or far earlier when the road was first laid down. Either way it was a giant with a root system that had overgrown above ground and wrapped itself around the curbside desperate to find space for itself.
I stood and marvelled for a few moments at its remnants. I snuck a peek inside the crevice that had clearly been home to carpenter ants or perhaps termites. The whole was likely 6 inches (10 centimeters) at its deepest into the base.
I found myself wondering how many different families had lived around its shade. When we purchased our house in 1998, we learned we were to become the fourth owners to obtain a title since its foundation had been laid in 1958. Had this tree provided some shade for those construction workers to sit under while they ate their lunches and discussed the release of South Pacific?
Had it watched as one by one the street filled with homes in a variety of shapes and sizes. In our 20 years here, we’ve seen the houses on our block change color, shape, and size. We’ve seen families come and go while still others have resided here even longer than us. When had this enormous-for-a-small-suburban-street tree been planted?
I took a few steps back from the trunk and the modern sedan several houses down came into view. The solar panels and modern lamp posts framed the photo view. The orange traffic cones of modern life snapping me back into the present and the tree’s remains.
We had to have a giant tree in front of our house removed more than a decade ago for similar reasons to the removal of this one. These large beast have roots that scurry through the earth pushing their way into pipes and wreaking havoc on plumbing systems. The tree in our house had roots almost as big in diameter as our sewer lines. It had soaked up our water and nutrients in order to grow resplendent as a shade provider.
While I have not missed cleaning up the acorns it would drop everywhere in our yard — it’s shade used to cover our porch in the early summer evenings like today. I miss the greenery that made the heat more bearable. Now, the sun shines directly at us when it passes between the two houses across the street just after dinner time. I was not as philosophical about the life of that tree when we had it removed.
Perhaps because I was younger and less reflective. More likely, because I was caught up in not having working plumbing and in the expense of tree removal, sewer line replacement, and in both the destruction and replacement of our sidewalk. It was not a one project minor home repair. In fact, it was the first multi-step expensive home project we’d had to face. It’s no wonder I was less ponderous about the loss of the tree and far more focused on getting to done.
My most vivid memory of that ordeal is the mound of dirt in our small front yard with the backhoe the company doing the work had parked on top of it over a weekend. All together, the spectacle was tall enough that we could look out our upstairs window into the driver seat.
Time marches on and towns, streets, communities evolve as it moves forward. This tree is now removed and gone to become firewood, furniture, or something else. The Town’s Shade Tree Commission might replace it with a new sapling or they might not. Either way, the view outside our windows has subtly changed forever.
Photo prompts are by me and for me.
219 Days to go.
© Randi Sumner