I don’t know whether this will be a funny story or a heart-warming story. It could end up being a little bit of both. “Oh no” you say, “not another sentimental story about a tree, told with a life-lesson. I’m tired of trees being used this way”. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t a sentimental story. What you read in this story is up to you. Essentially, I had a hard time getting a good picture of this tree because it was so tall, and once I did, I had to write a story about it because I think this photo looks pretty cool. I also like trees.
Here is Part 1 of this story:
This is the story of the front-yard tree at my child-hood home. I’ll start with the sad part. The reason I took a picture of this tree is because a few days later it would be cut down. You see, in its grand age, it began to misbehave. It had complications due to its size. When you’re a tree, you get big and tall, and strong, and then when your limbs get too big, they fall off. These are the complications that make people like my dad nervous. One day, a few weeks before the felling of the tree, one of those large limbs cracked and fell off the tree with only a light breeze happening at the time. It fell onto power lines that ran from the pole on my parents’ side of the street to the neighbours across the street.
The drama begins…
There was a big mess and a whole lot of drama (medium-sized-town drama I mean). The volunteer fire-department came and blocked off the street, waiting for the power company to come and “secure the (power) scene” and the power was out for three hours! What do people do without TV or internet these days? Not many know – but the tree may have known (if it had a brain), it was that old. Without electricity, it was a return to the days of “keep the fridge door closed!” and maybe for some, “we’re staying at Grandma’s for a few days!” (That’s good, because Grandma has ice cream and electricity).
I found out about all of the details of this drama while at “home” visiting my parents when my dad says “say your last goodbyes to the tree out front”. So I went out and took the picture and decided to write a story. In the spirit of honest story-telling I’ll tell you that the parts of the life-story of this tree that I was there for are true, and for the parts I wasn’t there for (since the tree was at least 100 years old) those could be made up.
Partly True Tree History
This maple tree came to Canada more than 100 years ago from Norway as a mere seedling for a slightly warmer life. It really liked summer. The tree bloomed where it was planted in the front yard of a house in a newly developed area in a small town. In case you’re wondering: yes, maple trees bloom and the little yellow flowers coat cars, lawns, and driveways every spring, like a golden floral carpet (they get everywhere).
This tree was joined by many other Norway Maples in other front yards and the backyard of its house and those of the ones up and down the street.
As the tree sucked up all the water it could get its roots on, making growing flowers in the front of the house a challenge, it grew big and strong. And the larger it grew, the harder it became to grow flowers in the front flower beds. Ask my mom and dad, and anyone else who participated in the annual “dig the tree roots out of the flower beds” ritual. The tree was tenacious, and it didn’t care about what anyone thought or said about it or where it put its roots!
Tree life-lesson: in order to grow big and strong, you can’t worry about what people say about where you’re putting your roots.
This annual ritual became a game of my dad trying to out-smart the tree year-after year, testing my dad’s creativity to come up with a new and better way to keep the tree roots out of the flower beds. Every spring, the task consumed him. He was determined to win against this tree and its creeping roots. I wanted to say “Just give in Dad – the tree is bigger than you!” My dad is almost as tenacious as the tree, so this game kept on for years and years. The tree just didn’t care!
Tree life-lesson: If something is bigger than you, you’re not giving up or giving in by letting it win. You’re being smart. Work with it instead of against it, for the good of nature. Also, you’re the one with the chain-saw and the phone-number for the tree surgeon. Just wait for your opportunity to use them.
This Norway Maple, a.k.a. “front yard tree” was already big and strong (and old) by the time I came onto the scene. It was tall, beautiful, and full of leaves in the summer. And it dropped those leaves in the fall, giving us kids something to do cleaning up all those leaves. Yes, we did rake the leaves into a pile and jump around and play in the leaves…and then rake them all up after we messed up the pile. And then we did it all again. It was worth it!
Tree life-lesson: It’s not such a big deal to lose your leaves. The kids are having fun with them, and you can grow new ones in the spring.
Bonus tree life-lesson: Plus, if you’re the tree, isn’t it fun to drop a bunch of leaves, watch the humans clean them all up, think they’re done, and then you drop a tonne more leaves? That’ll teach them to take themselves so seriously!
This week has been full of tree stories and life lessons from a tree, both funny and sentimental. Next week, I’ll post the rest of this tree story and further life lessons from the tree. Click “Follow” so you don’t miss it!