News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

The felling of a tree

There is a new void in my front yard created when my next-door neighbors and I had to remove three old ponderosa pine trees, two due to disease and beetle infestation, and one in the middle of my front yard due to an increasingly precarious lean.

Nate Goodwin and his crew from Timber Stand Improvement did a first-class job utilizing a large crane, a voracious chipper, five men on the ground, and the feller up in the trees performing astonishing feats of agility, chain sawing one tree section at a time that was then lifted away by the crane.

We dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s before the removal began. A forester looked at the trees and determined they should come out. We then notified the City that we had several trees that needed removal. That needs to be done even if the trees are on your own private property. We marked the location of the trees on an aerial map of our neighborhood, so the City knew exactly where they were. Three certified arborists came and gave us bids (removing big pondies is an expensive endeavor) and we chose the one we wanted. He sent letters of notification to the City outlining the reasons for the removals and the approximate date they would occur. The City gave us their blessing.

The day arrived warm and sunny with no wind. I had some momentary hesitation as the crew prepared their equipment. I love my pondies and all trees in general. I spent a good share of my childhood in our apple and pear trees. The pondies provide welcome relief from the hot summer sun while providing shelter for the squirrels and the birds. But I knew they had to be removed so I took a deep breath and focused on the amazing work going on in the front yard.

I documented the effort with photos and videos. I will admit, I teared up when the first several cuts were made on my “leaner,” hoping the wildlife had safely vacated. At least it is past nesting season.

As I sat on my front porch, safely out of the way of falling limbs and debris, my mind wandered to metaphor-land and similarities between cutting down a tree and the death of a person. That tree will live on in my memory as I recall the “deer crossing” sign that used to be affixed to it, much like the memory of a loved one who has died.

As I age, I, like the tree, am becoming compromised and a little weaker. The tree leaned into two neighboring trees, and I am coming to appreciate more the support of my friends and family as I need occasional help.

My pondie withstood the wind, rain, snow, and ice, and drought for decades, each year producing new pinecones with seeds for reproducing while providing shelter and shade. Its surroundings changed from an uninhabited forest to a street of homes and humans and all we brought with us. I have been buffeted by life and its many challenges and my environment has changed numerous times, yet I have persisted.

I haven’t gotten used to pulling in the driveway and seeing the empty space where my “leaner” used to stand. When someone dies, the adjustment to not having them there can provide an emotional jolt each time they aren’t where you’ve always expected them to be.

I asked the felling crew to leave about a two-foot stump so I can place a flowerpot there in the summer. Right now, there is a large orange pumpkin for Halloween in the place of honor. The freshly cut stump is oozing sticky amber pitch from its wound, yet the root system is undisturbed due to its entanglement with the other larger pondies that stand in the same island.

After I am gone, I hope the roots I put down will continue to intertwine with family and friends still living. I have provided shelter and shade to those I love and care about. As I depart, it will be time for the following generations to step up.


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