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The trees of winter

We had a bittersweet morning here on Cider Hill today....Three or our oldest trees had to go the way of the chain saw! Due to old age, poor planting conditions and the toll exerted on them by gradual climate change, our acer rubrum, Colorado Blue spruce and Sugar maple were all taken down this morning.

They were all in bad shape, planted at least a hundred years ago, the acer rubrum, was hanging on by a thread. It has graced the side of our road for a century, offering a buffer to the street traffic and shade for my garden. She had also shaded many a traveler, blazed away a fiery red each October and housed who knows how many birds, squirrels and other warm and cold blooded friends. Unfortunately, due to the widening of Cider Hill Road (aka Rte. 91), the constant application of road salt, numerous hurricanes, straight line micro bursts, thunder storms, snow and ice storms, the old lady just could not stand another year! It was quite a sight to see her taken down. It required a 100 foot crane to maneuver the pieces of her crown over the smaller hemlocks and onto the neighbors road where she was cut into pieces for firewood or chipped up for mulch. It was like a ballet in the air, the large pieces of the crown twirling slowly over the tree tops, gray against indigo blue, softly landing on the tip of it's trunk, the loggers gently lowering it to the ground to dismember it's pieces. The butt logs into the flat bed for firewood, the smaller ones to be ground into mulch. Each machine operator handled their tool like it was an extension of their hand. The large claw gently pushed the brush towards the chipper and carefully loaded the butt logs onto the rack truck. The crane operator landed his block and tackle pulley perfectly in the tree, the arborist ascending  like a trapeze artist to place the ropes for the next cut. Everyone took their time, assessing each cut for maximum efficiency. It was a work of art!

The 90ft, Blue spruce and the sugar maple were an easier job, the spruce being a straight line, required only three or four cuts to take it down. It too spiraled over the hemlock crowns, twirling ever so slowly before touching ground. The younger sugar maple never had a chance to grow to it's full potential. After 30 years or so, it succumbed quickly to road salt, fluctuating weather patterns, the indignity of having it's roots dug up every year to maintain the road drainage swale, and so weakened was attacked by a variety of viruses and insects.

But now the front yard looks barren, the scale and softness changed dramatically! The house looks unfinished, the corner empty..The roof will be happy now, and the squirrels won't be quite so quick to raid the bird feeder, their ladder to roof now gone, and the threat of a large branch going through the roof in the next hurricane or micro burst has been eliminated. But so has so much more. As I took photos, I was envisioning what and where to plant the next tree. One that is a bit hardier than the maples, one that will be planted further from the insults of living by a roadside. It will be deciduous, shade in the summer, a screen for the road. My shade garden that flourished under the three trees, has become a full sun garden! But there is inspiration to be had! I will start the design process immediately, envisioning the new garden to come...my mind already churning with ideas!

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