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#ThursdayTreeLove: Revelations from a Hard Decision

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I discovered #ThursdayTreeLove when Chandra’s post led me to it. See below for a link to the Thursday Tree Love host.

It was a hard decision I didn’t want to make and still don’t want to think about, but the revelation it brought is important. My husband told me the mimosa next to the house had to come down so they could add the rain gutters. Water damage is what led to the major renovations that have had us living in my parents’ old house since September. We could almost buy a new house with the money we’re spending on repairs. As the overhang on our house is practically non-existent, rain gutters are needed. It’s been so long, at least 25 years, that I don’t remember if that mimosa sprouted there on it’s own or if I transplanted it from a more obviously wrong spot. It took root at least a foot, maybe two, from the corner of the house. Now I know that is too close. It’s a hard lesson.

As you might know, my love for trees is powerful. I have a particular fondness for the misunderstood mimosa. When David and I reconnected in 2011, I didn’t know that he would become my husband, but one of the first things I told him was that I was a tree-hugger. He said he was too. That was good to hear, though I doubted that he could have the depth of tree love that I did.

After David told me the mimosa next to the house had to go, I asked him if we could just trim some of the branches. He said no because the tree really was right next to the house. I knew that. The main trunk had grown to be just a few inches from the house, touching the house when the wind blows hard, and major branches draped over the roof in the summertime. I asked David to take care of it and said that I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to see any remains. It’s too painful for me. We’re staying an hour away, and David commutes almost daily, so he would have plenty of opportunity to do it.

A few days later, David came “home” after working in the yard at our more permanent address. He said he took down the mimosa. He told me he said a prayer for it first. He got choked up talking about it. There were tears in his eyes. David’s feelings for this tree shocked me. I knew he cared, but he does not show emotion easily, though has shown it in grieving for dogs. David is strong and very practical, almost Vulcan-like at times which can be irritating but is more often comforting in it’s steadiness.

I knew David told me he was a “tree-hugger” back when we reconnected, but I didn’t know he could feel this depth of emotion for a tree. I didn’t know it would be hard for him. I didn’t ask him to say a prayer – that was all his idea. I just asked him to take care of it, and he did. I thanked him for caring so much and gave him a big hug. The gift in the sadness is that I have a new appreciation for the depth of my husband’s compassion. A person can have a big heart even if he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve.

David makes things from reclaimed wood, fallen trees, or trees that have to be cut down. He said the wood from the mimosa is a beautiful and pink. He hopes to make many beautiful things from it in his wood shop. I hope some day I can bear to look at them.

More mimosas live my backyard, thankfully not close to the house. I call them prolific rather than invasive, and have given a few away. I’m sure some of them came from the mimosa that took root too close to the house all those years ago.

mimosa flowers on path

Mimosa flowers in the back yard

 

Thursday Tree love is a photo feature on Happiness and Food, hosted on 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month. The next edition will be live on February 14, 2019. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to the post on happiness and food:  https://www.happinessandfood.com/thursdaytreelove-56/

 


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Tree-Hugger’s Confession

tree roots closer

First, the confession, inspired by Natalie Scarberry’s enchanting post on trees.

The fact that I am a tree-hugger, is not the confession. That’s something I’m proud of. The dilemma is what to do about the trees growing too close to the house. I waited several months for a hard freeze, hoping that maybe the trees would be sleeping and dormant, before removing several young trees growing right next to my father’s house. My husband couldn’t do it for me, because he was recovering from hernia surgery. My father is 84, and I wouldn’t want him to do it with his health challenges. We borrowed a tree-puller, an amazingly powerful, yet simple tool. Still some of the oak roots were deep and required considerable digging, clipping, and pulling.

It was dark by the time I finished the job. Even though the temperature had dipped below 40 degrees, I’d worked up  quite a sweat. Yet, the job was harder for me emotionally than it was physically, because I love trees. It was like those jobs I learned to set my jaw at back when I was single and had to do the hard things myself- or thought I did anyway.

I chopped up most of the saplings and seedlings, hoping they wouldn’t suffer so long that way. I decided to save the smallest sapling, a four foot pine, and two seedlings by wrapping them in a plastic bag and driving them home. They are doing okay in my kitchen, in a bucket of potting soil, until I plant them in my backyard – maybe Saturday if the weather feels right.

Along with the sapling, I’m collecting homeless poinsettias.

My church always has a lot of poinsettias leftover from Christmas Eve. Even after people have taken home the plants they want, there are usually 10 to 20 left unclaimed.

I worry that many poinsettias just get thrown in the trash after Christmas. The very least we can do is compost them. I’d heard poinsettias were poisonous, but have learned they’re not as toxic as I thought, according to this Mayo Clinic article.

Of the 15 or so poinsettias left behind at church, I brought the four worst looking plants home to compost, unless I can hold out until warm weather and plant them in the back yard. At least that way they have a chance. I left several other poinsettias (the ones with leaves still attached) at church with the plan to plant some in the church yard when winter is done.

Normally, outdoor poinsettias do not survive the winter here in the Carolinas, but anything is possible. One spring, I noticed something bright red along the fence in my backyard. I had no idea what it could be. When I got closer, I realized it was a poinsettia I had planted the previous spring and forgotten about. That winter must have been a mild one, or the poinsettia was a tough one.

Maybe I’ll pot one or two poinsettias and keep them inside, like the three year old below. I’d heard that if you keep an older poinsettia in the dark for about a month it will turn red. I put the one in the photo in our church utility closet for about two weeks in November. When I brought it out, tiny new leaves were light red. All the new growth since then has been a pinkish-red. Like magic!

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This three year old poinsettia bloomed red leaves when it came out of the closet.

I wonder if we will be able to use any of last year’s poinsettias for Christmas Eve of 2016!

 

 

 


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Tree Hugger’s Dilemma

tree sycamore thru leaves

I was moved close to tears by Trini’s post about a child’s feelings for trees and fairies:

https://pathsofthespirit.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/from-the-eye-of-a-rainbow-childs-mind-8/comment-page-1/#comment-14429

It felt good to know I’m not alone in my love for trees.

I have more trees in my yard than anyone in my neighborhood. My neighbors may think I’m crazy, or at least eccentric, for having so many trees in such a small front yard in the city. I like the natural look. Parts of my back yard look like a jungle. This is all because I hate to cut down trees. I relocate seedlings that are in the way. I put some in pots to give to friends. I’ve even replanted some in uninhabited edges of wooded areas.

The ivy I planted in my shady front yard is taking over, and that’s okay. It’s nice not to have to mow a front lawn. When I find the time, I enjoy trimming the ivy to create little paths.

IMG_1625The problem is, my space is limited, and there are all these little oak trees growing among the ivy. Maybe 20 or 30 if I really counted them. The front IMG_1623yard is about 25 x 50 feet at most, and already contains two dogwoods, a mimosa, and a cedar who’s roots eventually find their way into the plumbing system. The mother oak and another cedar stand out by the street along with a crepe myrtle.

Sometimes I set my jaw firmly, and pull up some of the little oaks and tear them up quickly, or I snip off the tops.  I meant to do more of this in the winter, when I hope they’re sleeping, but it’s been hard to keep up with them all.  And I don’t want to do it.

I feel bad pulling up the seedlings. But I can’t let a bunch of oak trees grow up in my little front yard.

I tell myself that seedlings are mowed over all the time. I imagine that in the forest, trees compete for light and space, and all of them cannot live. Right?

I’m hoping for a compassionate answer.