Thursday, 25 June 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - June 25, 2015

Under the Manitoba Maples

The southwest corner of our property has been guarded by two Manitoba Maple trees  for as long as we've lived here. They were probably ten to fifteen years old when we first arrived in the rural routes in 1978.

Looking south to Cherry Street, September 1978. Manitoba Maples centre & right
With chainsaws, handsaws and hatchets, my love and I cleared the land. We carefully plotted out the space required for the house and the septic tile bed. We agonized over exactly which trees had to go. I recall our contractor kidding us about our over-protective, hand-wringing angst as we considered each tree. We stockpiled what we thought was a huge supply of firewood - almost all of it red pine.

Then a hulking D-9 bulldozer pushed out the stumps and sculpted out the foundation for the house. At the time I insisted that the two sentries at the southwest corner of the lot remain untouched, much to the chagrin of the dozer operator.

September 1978, looking south; Manitoba Maple on right

The years zoomed by. The trees grew up and out. I hardly noticed.

2014 Manitoba Maples on the right
In these latter years, storms - ice, snow, wind, torrential rain - have put my beloved guardians to the test.

December 2013

Heavy in leaf and branch stretching up and out, the big trees creak and moan in the wind. A debris field of small branches litters the lawn after each new storm. The added weight of water brought on by a deluge of rain adds to their stress.

The storm this past Monday night brought plenty of wind and rain and lightning. It came in three waves, each one more intense than the one before it. Just after 1am, as I eased back into bed after settling the dog for the umpteenth time -
No crack, no bang, just a heavy sigh, exhaled outside my window. In the darkness and pelting rain, I could see nothing amiss, but my heart felt loss. Morning light revealed the cause:

Not just a downed section of a tree, but also decay - spongy, punky rot...

And one more thing, a more troubling thing: a crack along another major section, an opening that expanded and contracted with each gust of wind.

This was serious - this seriously big section of a seriously big tree stretched out over its partner into the neighbour's trees. The good news? No hydro or telephone lines and no houses or other structures are in the way, should the bough break.

Still I cried. A deluge of memories took me by storm.

Under these branches, summer picnics were enjoyed by giggling youngsters. In the Autumn, squeals of delight reverberated through bare branches as little ones frolicked and scuffed through piles of fallen leaves. Winter was a quiet time for the trees except for an occasional attempt at sledding down the minimal slope under the big one. Oh and of course that same slope offers a great vantage point from which the resident canine can survey her dominion.

And a picture perfect spot for Grade 8 graduation in 2001:

Out came the chainsaws, handsaws, loppers and rake. My love and I cleared and cleaned up the fallen, keeping a watchful eye and ear on the big crack.  Surely this tree of so many memories was doomed.

We knew the rest of the task was beyond our abilities and daring, so when all was tidied, we called the doctor, an arborist, to see what could be done.

On the phone he sounded far more optimistic than I felt. He made his rounds the next morning before 8. Surveying the old gal from every angle he murmured oohs and few ahhs. Then he announced his prescription: some minor surgery to reduce weight and the application of a brace to stablilize the tree. (Mentally I noted the similarity to the remedy for my own aging body woes - lose weight and brace the parts that are falling down!)

There was more: in a month's time he'll be back to amputate the section that is beginning to split off. There is fungus growing on it/in it and rot is imminent if not already well developed.

Bottom line: the Grand old Manitoba Maple is spared. She will live on with two of her original four-part trunk structure in tact. I am truly heartened. I hope she is too, along with her sister tree by her side.
Long live the trees!

Note: Apparently taking the tree down entirely would be way more expensive than preserving it, about double the cost.
Win - Win!

©2015 April Hoeller

1 comment:

  1. 'Long live the trees.' I am so pleased for you April. I could feel your pain via this post- so glad it's all worked out:) xx