Tag Archives: trees

The Falling Leaf

In the gentle breeze a single oak leaf drifted down from the sky as my dog watched. Her intention of course was to eat the leaf before it hit the ground. And so she did. What an idyllic scene. Norman Rockwell would have loved the whole atmosphere.

One leaf. From an oak tree. How serene!

Taking the time to watch over the next couple of weeks, I will be treated to this sight millions of times. Does anyone know how many leaves the average oak tree has? Not me. And I’m not about to think about it. Some of those leaves fall in the forest. And some fall into my grassy yard. The latter have to be moved. That is, blown, raked or mulched. That’s my job.

I certainly won’t be lacking things to do over the next few weeks. One leaf is lovely. As is one oak tree. So I am abundantly fortunate to live on three acres with dozens of trees. Each one contributing a full compliment of spring, summer and fall leaves to the pile I anticipate.

Not all of my trees are oaks. There are also sweet gums, which also drop their spiny gumballs to the ground. There are maples, sassafras, crepe myrtle, dogwood, and a few evergreens.

Leaves that fall into the woods I can simply enjoy the sight of, allowing them to finish out their life cycle as nature intended. Unless they blow into the yard. There they would join the legions of leaves waiting for me to move them. The grass could use one more haircut with the lawnmower, which will mulch the leaves and grass and return it all to the soil. My leaf blower can huff and puff and push them down the hill into the ravine where the creek flows. And the mulcher can suck them up and grind them into mincemeat. If I’m really feeling vigorous, I will break out the old rake.

Most of the leaves will fall soon. And some will wait until the spring when new growth will force them off of the trees. The outdoors around me is filled with wonders. And I embrace them all.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Earth Day

It’s not too late, because as we keep track of time, it’s not quite midnight so it must still be today. And today is Earth Day. I planted a tree.

I know, Earth Day is about a lot more than planting a tree. It’s loving the Earth, and working toward her protection. It’s using her resources wisely and wasting nothing. Solar power, hydroelectric. Do away with fossil fuels. And plant some trees. I know all of that.

About ten years ago I wanted to celebrate Earth Day at the college where I worked. So I planted a tree. I was the only one to come out for the ceremony. It was a birch tree. Beautiful. Last time I checked, it had BEEN CHOPPED DOWN. BUT guess what? That is not gonna stop me.

Today I planted another tree. Don’t misinterpret. It wasn’t all about Earth Day and saving the world. I had a small sapling that I had bought at a nursery, and it needed a permanent home. Just so happened that I found that home and planted it on Earth Day. Or was it a coincidence?

I think that the stars aligned and the spirits of the universe came together to tell me- plant that tree today.

Earth Day is a day for celebrations and statements. But a love of Mother Earth is a daily thought, without thinking. Its something we do if we really believe. Yes, the climate is changing. Its April and 85 degrees. Those among us who deny, or disbelieve, are passé. Or stupid. Or motiveated in some strange way by money to deny the facts. I think its all bout money, and the folks who don’t believe have some reason to believe in cash.

Whatever. I believe. And I planted a tree. To clean our air and give us oxygen. So when I am choking in the soot and smoke of coal fired energy plants, or burning carbon monoxide of combustible engines, I can say, damn, if only those bastards had believed in global warming I might live to see another sunrise. Peace out folks!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?



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Hunting Squirrel

When you read the title of this, Hunting Squirrel, you probably thought that this was about someone’s efforts at pointing things that go bang at cute little furry things that frolic in the glades and forests and city parks. I’ll admit, I don’t like squirrels. Yes, they are kind of cute. The thing is, the little buggers like to climb up in the trees around my house, leap onto the roof, and begin to chew on the wooden siding of the house. Or on the metal flashing used on the roof. Or to bite, scratch, claw and wriggle their way through the wire mesh covering my chimney flue. All in an effort to get inside my house.

There is plenty of evidence on the outside of the house. Brown sections on the white wood where they have eaten the paint, and wood. Scratch marks on the flashing form their sharp little claws. An I hear them running around on top of the roof all the time. The best, and most conclusive evidence however, was when the little sons of…I mean, cute little fluff balls, dropped down the chimney and landed on top of the fireplace damper. Only to be stuck there. Which left three things to happen. One, they might by some miracle climb back up the chimney and escape. They might die in the chimney, rot and create a horrendous stink. Or, with my luck, they would eat their way through the damper and get loose in my living room!

I’ve had to call Earl Bushmaster twice. Earl is a guy around here who catches unwanted critters and varmints and takes them waaay off into the bush and releases them. Usually to find their way right back to my house. Just kidding. Once Earl gets hold of one of these rascals, I don’t have to worry about seeing it again. But I think Earl is a little scared of squirrels. He’s good with snakes, and bats,, and gophers and armadillos and such beasts. But the dang squirrels are so fast, they move like greased lightning. Earl jumps a little higher than I do when the mother, I mean cute little fluff balls, jump form here to there. They can fly!

We finally catch them, but one of those little …fluff balls (you thought I was gonna slip that time didn’t you), tried to eat his way out the window, but only managed to eat all the wood trim with what seemed like giant teeth gnashing in one bite. Yes, I’ve been known to point things that go whoosh! at the critters.

But I have neglected my story in wasting your time telling you about my feelings on squirrels. The real subject of the story isn’t about me chasing squirrels, its about a badass mother of a squirrel that I saw hunting a cat! That squirrel stood up and pointed that nose right at that cat. And he took his squirrely tail and extended it as long as it could be, and pointed it straight behind him. Then he lifted one of his front feet and stood there. Staring. Waiting. He looked just like some kind of German short haired pointer, ready to attack. Maybe he knew I didn’t like cats much either and was trying to get on my good side that day. Or maybe we just have some tough squirrels around here.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Caretakers of the Tree

The place was named Shadow Lawn Farm. At one time an expansive place with livestock including cows, pigs, chickens and horses. There was a two story bank barn in days of yore. The second story disappeared somewhere along the line and it became a one story barn with horse stalls and a place for tractors. And a garage. Then there was the house. A two story place made of stone dug out of the fields as the farmers worked the land.

No telling what the first place looked like, logs and mud maybe, but the original stone house was a two over two built in 1863. Over the years it was expanded, still using the stone as a building material. And then expanded more using wood. Porches were added, and covered up, until it looked like a stone center with wings spreading out in every direction. All based on the two foot thick stone walls of the original.

And from the beginning, out in the front yard, grew the little tree. But now, after all these years, I couldn’t possibly get my arms around its trunk. In fact, I believe that my full six foot arm span wouldn’t cover its diameter! With its numerous branches, from the ground up, and its sixty foot wide canopy, it casts one hell of a shadow across the lawn. Get it? Shadow Lawn Farm.

It’s not just any old tree though. I’m pretty sure someone long ago planted this beauty. Not an oak or maple or even hickory or elm. This is a copper beech. And a magnificent specimen it is! The largest in the county! I’ve only ever seen one larger. That one is so big that where its lowest branches have dipped to touch the ground, new trees have sprung up, themselves now with branches nearing the ground. That tree is protected from any onslaught by being located on a college campus. Carefully tended.

My tree grows in the yard. It touches the house. And reaches its branches out over the road in front. Keep in mind that the house sits over a hundred feet from the road. But running along the side of the road is the electric company power line. Quite a danger for a tree. No, the tree won’t get electrocuted. But the power company doesn’t like trees. The branches give squirrels a way to get to transformers to commit suicide. And black out the neighborhood. And the branches can fall off the trees and snap the power lines. Especially when everything’s weighed down with ice in the winter. So every once on a while the power company comes along with a whirring buzz saw and mangles anything near its power lines.

Except the copper beach. For nearly forty years my parents have stood guard over that tree. Recognizing its beauty. Grandeur. And significance. You can hear the power company coming for miles. And every time, my mother or my father would wait at the edge of their property to meet the power people. They would tell them about the tree. About its beauty. And significance. And every time, the power company people would get out a pair of pruning shears and gently take out a twig or two. Just enough for the power cable to run through the middle of the tree unobstructed.

If I remember correctly, in the winter the bare branches form a crazy maze of avenues. Spring brings leaves of purple. In the summer they turn green. And in the fall, oh, in the fall they turn that magnificent copper color and shimmer in the sunlight. Spectacular to see. And each year it grows a little taller, and wider, and closer o the ground.

My parents are moving this spring, before the leaves emerge. I don’t know if new owners of the homestead will know about the shadow lawn farm. But they will see the tree. The question is, will they intercept the power company buzz saw to preserve the tree? And its beauty.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? http://www.personalhistorywriter.com


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Tree Cemeteries

Wraaaahh! Whruummmm!  Chain saw in the distance.  Which direction?  Maybe more than one.  Every day the chain saws and the grinding.  Still cleaning up the mess.  From the looks of it, they will never get finished.

It was one hell of a Halloween trick in October of 2012.  Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey and then pummeled the entire East Coast.  The chain saws I hear are those in a small area of Pennsylvania near my parent’s house.  The landscape of their property is greatly changed as I view it five months later.

There are empty spots where trees used to line the front walkway.  A new pile of cut up wood in the barn.  But mostly there are dozens of trees fallen and broken, lying on the ground and atop one another.  What used to be a neat wooded area of apple and maple and oak trees now looks like someone took the contents of several dozen log trucks and dumped them at random in this area.  An impenetrable jumbled mess.

Maybe if I could rent a chain saw, and a log splitter, and a commercial grade tree mulcher and worked eight hours a day for a month I could clear this area.  Less than twenty percent of their property.  Certainly within six months…  maybe.  Wait a minute.  I don’t live in Pennsylvania, I’m visiting for a weekend.  And I have a job I have to go to.  Damn.  It will never get done.

There is one sign of progress in the yard.  Where the walkway meets he driveway, where there used to be two towering fir trees, there is now a nice area of thick mulch.  Freshly ground fir trees from the looks of it.  Hmmmm.

I see these piles of mulch everywhere.  Every home seems to have one in their yard.  Some are the remnants of a single tree.  Others look like a dump truck load, like I used to have to pay for to landscape my yard.  And in still other places there are piles that look as if they were left by the trainload.  I see a house where the entire yard is nothing but mulch.

And yet each home also still has piles of fallen trees.  These aren’t dainty and petite trees.  They are fifty-foot tall trees with hundreds if not thousands of branches.  Six inches, a foot, two and three feet in diameter.  Big ass trees.  Really big!  There are undeveloped tracts of wooded space where no work has been done.  Trees, trees and more trees on the ground.  As if a tornado had gone through and flattened everything.  Most visible as you look at the hillsides. 

My dad told me the neighbors had thirty trees knocked down, neatly, like soldiers marching in rank felled simultaneously.  They were gone now, and a vast emptiness had replaced them.  It will take years for new trees to grow back and fill the voids.  It will take years to clean up the now dead trees.  If we wait long enough they may rot before they can be cut up.

And what of the environmental impact?  Thousands of photosynthesizers no longer at work.  More carbon dioxide into the environment, less oxygen.   Increased global warming?  Not to mention the problems associated with increased water runoff and soil erosion.

It took a long time to create the trees, but only a few moments to take them away.  It’s a sad sight.  If this is what has happened here, I can only imagine the damage caused over the entire area of the East Coast.  It will take forever to clean it up.  I need to get started.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?   www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Sometimes, even when the snow is still on the ground, I can go out in the yard and look at the branches of trees and shrubs and find little tiny buds.  I’ll hold the branch in my hand, gently between my forefinger and thumb, and look closely to see if they are there.  This ritual begins in late winter every year, and I know the majority of the trees and shrubs in the yard as if they are old friends.

The buds begin as barely a blip on the surface of the branch.  As my anticipation of a bloom grows, so does the bud.  Weeks pass and I check every plant.  The buds grow larger and larger until I can see the beginnings of the flowers that will soon come forth.

Travelling south this weekend I noticed that the blooms are further along as I proceed until, reaching South Georgia, some of the trees are in full bloom.  The redbud trees are covered in pink and lavender.  Azaleas are full of bounteous color.  Apple and pear trees are covered in white.  And maple trees have reddened branch tips and leaf buds.

Very soon the procession will begin at home.  First the winter jasmine.  Then the forsythia.  Then redbuds and flowering fruit trees like apple, pear and peach.  Then the green leaves of maple and birch and oak.  The flowers have already begun.  Daffodils.  Tulips.  Iris.  And the grass will soon return to green, reawakened from it’s brown in dormancy.

I know it’s all coming because I see the yellow dust.  The pollen that comes from the blooms and chokes the sky with its yellow fog.  It coats the car, and the house.  And everything else that stands still outside.  Noses run and eyes water.  Soon, everything will be green.  And beautiful.  Passing seasons.  Jut like last year. And next year.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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