Elm Nightmare on My Street

Truth be told, it was an oak nightmare, a pin oak if I’m reading my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees correctly. It all started the first week of June when I realized the tree in the front yard still looked like it had in mid-December. Not a single leaf on its canopy. Then, later that week, I was mowing the grass and realized I was running over more than a handful of sticks around the base of the tree. Finally, I saw the black canker running along the bark (or lack thereof) and knew I couldn’t delay the inevitable.

“Just put me out of misery” this oak begged for months before I finally listened.

Still, somehow I managed to delay the inevitable until the middle of August when a local crew of landscapers driving past spotted the naked top of my dead tree and offered their services. “Let’s do it,” I told them before they’d even finished asking if I’d be interested.

D&E Services made it look easy, taking the tall tree down in a matter of ten minutes while Akira and I watched in fascination. My biggest concern was that the tree, hugging the fence line, was within spitting distance of the neighbor’s roof, but they easily brought it down to the middle of the yard. D&E kindly limbed most of it and were quickly on their way.

Maybe I could skip the chainsaw and just call it front yard bench seating?

I spent the afternoon lugging branches to the back of the yard, the dog excitedly rounding up any loose sticks (and promptly carrying them back to the tree). I wanted to have the yard as clear as possible (which was not very clear in the end) by the time Chris came home, since I knew he was none too pleased I hadn’t paid the extra to have the wood removed. “Where are we going to put all this firewood?” he complained over the phone while the chainsaw was revving out front (I mentioned in an earlier post that he suffers from 1/4-acre syndrome and still hasn’t quite realized how vast our lot is).

“I’ll take care of it,” I assured him. “It’s about time I learned how to use a chainsaw anyway.” I won’t even get into the complaints that comment elicited, from Chris and other parties.

Truth be told, I had big plans for this downed tree. Enough firewood to finally make use of my fire pit whenever I want; plentiful Hammerschlagen stumps for our annual Oktoberfest party; stepping stones to save a spot for the flagstone that’s been on my list for months now, etc.

That last idea came courtesy of our Glacier National Park trip. Take a look at the following photo of the Grinnell Lake trail and tell me if that’s not clever.

My takeaway from Grinnell Lake was this clever use of abundant resources.

Right? And by the time these slabs of wood rot away, re-mulching my garden, maybe my bank account will better be able to handle the cost of the Stone Center’s flagstone.

So now I just have to work on this whole chainsaw toting thing. I’ll keep you posted!


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