I sat on the porch last week and watched a woodpecker inspect the large old maple tree in front of our house. He busily hopped up and down along the tree trunk and spent a long time assessing our tree.
His gray feathers blended in with the bark, giving him some camouflage. He wasn’t pecking very much, which I’m told is a good sign that the tree is healthy and not host to too many woodpecker snack-type insects.
Our big maple out front has what our daughter has deemed the most perfect squirrel hole, as if from a children’s storybook, and the tree is home to a dray, or scurry, or maybe just a group of squirrels. I haven’t made a formal study of it, but I believe that the knot hole serves as the nursery for baby squirrels, and then the squirrels move higher up in the tree branches to leafy nests after they are no longer babies. That’s just my amateur squirrel watcher theory.
A good friend has said that our street looks like a Hollywood set for small town America. Part of that ambiance is due to the both quaintly remodeled and in-need-of-repair historic homes that line Second Street. The grand old trees, however, contribute mightily to the beauty of our street. The giant trunks and huge spreading limbs dwarf the houses. The branches create the “dome” of Emily Dickenson’s poem, making a well-shaded arch along most of the street. This morning the dappled sunshine peeked through leaf shapes, shining brightly on the lawns and gardens.
It’s not hard to feel fond admiration for these trees.
Or to mourn their passing.
One noble giant has been marked with the bright green dot, indicating that this tree is on the list of “completely dead” trees that need to be removed. I’m no expert — I wouldn’t call it completely dead, but without a doubt, it’s half dead. The tree was heavily damaged in a storm a couple years back when the trunk split and a good section broke off. Our town does a good job of looking after the trees, and this one certainly isn’t in good shape, but I’m going to miss it. Even after they’ve been gone a few years, the places where other grand old trees stood seem empty.
Jim and I stood in the front yard and imagined places where we might add another tree or two, now or in the near future. Even the noble giants of Second Street don’t live forever, and we need to plan ahead.