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Hug That Tree!

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Awww, g’wan…hug the tree.  It deserves a little attention.

After the bushwhacker weather situations we’ve had around here the last couple of weeks, maybe we’d ought to pay a bit more attention to  the greenery instead of taking it for granted all of the time.  Many real estate agents will tell you that one of the things that will sell a property—besides “location, location, location”—is the presence of mature, or maturing trees, thoughtfully placed and well-maintained.  Especially for older homes—which we have a lot of around here—a house plopped down in the middle of a bare lot doesn’t have a big  helping of eye-appeal…looks sort of “nekkid”.  Older homes were often built with the expectation that the trees around it would provide a certain amount of “air conditioning” in the summer, a certain amount of windbreak in the winter, a place for the dads to put up a swing for the kids, a place for the kids to climb up and about and to make plans (often grandiose beyond belief) for a great treehouse or “hide-out”.

Not all trees can live up to these expectations , of course.  The Italian Cypress, those tall, skinny ones that often line the roads in Tuscany, for instance, or which can be found along scenic drives, those would probably be better suited for being at either end of a hammock.  The Bald( so called because it is deciduous, losing its leaves in winter, unlike most others of the Cupressaceae group) Cypress, native to North America, is usually found in swampy areas, surrounded by “knees” sticking up from the roots…not the best location for a house in the first place.

But I digress…  Are you surprised?

Anyhoo….  What we have around here are a lot of native trees that came with the place—Maples (Sugar Maples that gave the place an economic start, as well as a bunch of its poor relations), Beeches, Ash (sadly departing under the onslaught of the Emerald Ash Borer), Butternut, Elms(  along with the Chestnut a victim of foreign diseases), Oaks, Sycamore, Willow, Walnut, Buckeye or Horse Chestnut…the list goes on…and on.  Anyway, just like the owners of the houses, the trees, many of them, have slid along from “mature” to just plain “old”.  And they’re coming down, either in their enormous entirety, or in pieces/parts, great, honking, big limbs crashing onto roofs yards, vehicles or other trees whenever the wind kicks up and the weather alerts are flying.  Plenty of work for the tree service people (A shout-out to Yarnells here for shooting out for an estimate when called after the last go-round) and for helpful neighbors with chainsaws.

So…, what to do ?

Plant more trees, of course.  One of the things that make this part of the country attractive in its own subtle way is the prevalence of trees and the way they mark the seasons.  Ask anyone who’s left here for the great desert southwest, or anyone who’s come here from the “eternal springtime” locales  When “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” in the spring (or earlier, now that climate change is upon us) or “In the Good Old Summertime” or “When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall” or even the Christmas tree in your own backyard sets the tone for our shared experience, a lot of the feeling can be seen in the trees.  Replant!  It’ll take another hundred years or so, but the beauty is worth waiting for and a generation or two down the road someone will be thanking you, whether they know your name or not.  You will have   done a good deed, paid it forward in the simplest, most profound way.

In the meantime, keep an eye on those trees.  Watch for unstable limbs, check for rot and/or cracks.  Get them before they get you—or anything else that’s underneath.  Call an arborist, if you must(I have to say, I don’t have great faith in the Ohio Edison guys, seems like they just want to keep the lines free from obstruction—that’s their job—but when it comes to  preserving the look of a neighborhood or a property, in the words of an old saying, “the devil take the hindmost”.  Too bad, baby.

You can get help with this from the county Soil and Water Conservation District folks.  Just pay attention to the papers or check out their website because every spring they offer a great selection of native plants—trees and shrubs—for county residents and very reasonable prices, with  descriptions and information about their characteristics and requirements.  That’s where I got my Pawpaw patch (It looks as though there may actually be some fruit this year.  Just my luck, some infestation or other will probably come in and devour the stuff before I ever get to taste it) as well as a Sassafrass bush, an Eastern Wahoo (Isn’t that a great name?), a Downy Serviceberry and a Dark Chokeberry.  Isn’t that an array?  Mine are mostly small , understory items attractive to birds and colorful, but there are Oaks and Maples and such also available.  There is always the Arbor Day Society as well.

Grow some shade.  Plant some food. House some birds. Clean our air.  Make a difference.

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Uplifting cartoon of the week :  Labeled Enlightenment Lesson # 1

A fellow with a backpack is shown finally reaching the top of a long climb (mountain goat pictured in the distance on top of a peak) to a ledge where a figure sits in front of a cave, a pair of candles burn in front, between the two.  The figure, wearing cat’s eye glasses, speaks, saying, “Oh, and why would you assume it’d be a MAN up here dispensing wisdom?”.

My thoughts exactly.