Thursday, May 17, 2012

If a tree falls...

We are lucky enough to live in a leafy urban neighbourhood where a high canopy of sugar maples casts sun-dappled shade on the gardens and sidewalks.  But the graceful giants are all over a century old, and several more seem to fall every year.  Everyone is becoming increasingly protective of the trees around here, glaring indignantly at the sound of chainsaws.  This spring, WE are to blame for the new gaping hole in the canopy.  We did it advisedly, for safety, but even so we feel sick about it.  Here's what we've lost:

The gorgeous, irreplaceable sugar maple canopy, before
And the gap in the canopy, now
And here's why we did it:
The devastating split in the trunk
The tree, earlier in its life, suffered an injury that created a 20' long split in the trunk.  Although the tree was making a valiant attempt to close in the split, it continued to trap water and rot from the inside out.  Five years ago, we had an arborist assess the tree.  He performed a weighted stress test that revealed quite a bit of movement at the base.  The tree lacked a root flare on two sides of the trunk, another possible indicator of risk.  However, the canopy of the tree was still strong.  He said the tree would continue to weaken, but he couldn't tell us how long we had.  We waited, possibly foolishly, another five years.

Can you blame us?
The canopy looking southwest (it's the middle tree that's doomed)

And looking north and south (the trunk illuminated by the sun)

If we'd kept our heads in the clouds, we might've been okay, but every time we walked by the uneven terrain caused up to watch our step, and when we looked down, we saw this:

Sawdust (in increasingly large chunks), rot, insects, lack of root flare
 And we worried.

Knowing we were gambling with the advent of every major storm, we finally agreed we would take the tree down this year.  We wish it could've happened before the trees leafed out. 

The beginning of the end--the view, forever altered, from my studio

going, going, going, going....

The final pass with the big chainsaw

They felled the final piece of the trunk
The rot was bad, especially half way up, where the tree could've snapped...
The man who felled it said he could tell by the way the chainsaw went through the trunk that the wood was soft and said we could sleep easier now. 

but perhaps not quite as bad as we'd hoped
All of the darker area in the trunk was quite wet, and much of it spongy.  Who can say how much longer the tree may have lasted.  Now we'll never know.  Alas.

Five hours to fell what took 120 years to grow.

We still feel a little sick.

Still, maybe our little 10 year old tulip tree will take advantage of the gap. And we can enjoy redesigning our newly light filled side yard.

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