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Live Oak Dead: An Arboreal Tragedy

If a tree falls in a yard, will anyone look up from their Harry Potter books to see it?

I really hadn't intended a botanical series this week, but the theme has been chosen for me.

Yesterday, a tragedy occurred here. It may sound silly but I am devastated about what has happened. Let me back up and tell this from the beginning, in photos.

I may have mentioned the incessant, unceasing, neverending, beyond Biblical rain we've had here. I may have mentioned it is every day, and has been, for months.

This is a dreadful photo, one I had never planned to do anything with other than keep for history. It's from about a week ago, on a day when my children---all of us sick with cabin fever---decided to suit up and go play in the rain. Can you see much? This is the back half of our yard. The small pink object is Persistence, standing shin deep in water. The yard had drained off earlier that day, but then we were hit with a storm and pounding of rain so fierce that about five inches of rain just stood on top of the already over-saturated ground.

The children went to the back with toy fishing poles and pretended they were in a lake fly fishing. It didn't take much imagination.

Another poor quality photo, but one that shows Persistence running through the rain, back from the "lake."

Look behind her to see the play set, and the tree line. Note the base of a large oak shade tree, at least 50 years old, not even a quarter of a way into its life span.

Note my use of the past tense.

Yesterday evening, while my husband was outside grilling dinner, there was a loud crack and then a terrible sight and sound.

It had poured rain, again, yesterday. It poured before the tree fell, it poured after the tree fell, it has continued raining over night...and it predicted to keep raining all day today.

I fear for the rest of my trees now, in standing water. Two hurricanes took the front yard trees. One replacement is in early adolescence and is big enough now to provide some shade and visual interest. The other is a mere child.

We'll plant a new tree, but my children will be long-grown and gone before it shades anything.

There is such a hole in the back now.

I admit it: I cried. Cried for the loss of the tree and all it provided. Cried for the tragedy, for the need to cut an over 50 ft tree into little bits. Cried for the complication and the cost.

I can't even be funny, creative or clever about this.

Of all the trees.

Of all the things.

I'm so tired of rain. Nothing is good in excess.

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


Anonymous said…
It is not at all silly to mourn a tree. They are so perfect, so strong and giving, and to lose them is emotional. I love the smell of trees, my baby lives for windy days when the trees blow about, and his older brother, as a baby, would sit in the stroller and point to every single tree, shouting "tee." There is something inborn about loving trees.
Anonymous said…
Oh Julie, I am so sorry.

Tree trimmers took off a huge limb from an oak that was at least 100 yrs old at my m-i-l's house, it looked as if an arm had been taken, and she nearly killed them and none of us dared to speak to her for a long time.
kaliroz said…
Oh, that's awful.

I love trees and I mourn whenever one falls.

There was this huge, beautiful pine where I grew up. Just enormous. During a really bad winter, which included a blizzard that trapped me in my house for seven days, the tree fell. I cried for weeks over it.
Ally said…
I echo Emily's comment that it isn't silly to mourn the loss of a tree. That is very sad.
Unknown said…
I'm sorry, too. :( There is something really sad when a tree is taken like that. (I may have read too many fantasy novels in which trees can talk!)
Gina Pintar said…
We had a beautiful Japanese Maple in the front of our old house. It fell over in a windstorm. We were very said about it. We missed that tree. No shade really to us but it was gorgeous. We drive by that house everyday to the new house. We did not replace the tree but the new owners put in a slow growing tree. Just the other day when driving by my husband mentioned losing that tree and how pretty it was. You are not silly for crying over a beautiful tree.
Magpie said…
Oh, that's so sad.
Aliki2006 said…
I would have cried buckets as well. I'm so sorry for your tree. So very sorry...
Anonymous said…
sigh. I'm sorry. Trees are majestic, and I'm especially fond of the live oak...

I've been thinking about trees recently because we always planned to plant a tree at this property and never did. Now, we're moving, and who knows if we'll be at the next place long enough to see a new tree mature....

You're lucky, though. There are a lot of trees surrounding your property. We'll be living on the edge of a wood, too.
Mad said…
Oh how sad. It was such a lovely tree. Am wishing a high pressure system your way.
flutter said…
Oh that is just awful, what a beautiful tree.
Julie Pippert said…
Thanks all. I'm so glad you understand the beauty that was the tree and the grief at its loss.

Tree Man #1 of 4 was here a little while ago.

We are essentially looking at $3000 just to remove the tree from our yard and our neighbor's yard. That does not include the cost of repairing the fence (essential) or if the neighbors ask us to pay for repairing their yard.


Also, because of all the rain, what was and appeared to be a healthy tree developed black root (rot) and this means the rest of our trees are in jeopardy and in danger.

Okay not shaping up to be a fun day.

Silver lining, right?

Nobody was hurt and houses are fine and I'm having a night out tonight, which will involve booze and chocolate. I don't feels good in the moment and is a rare indulgence.
I'm the same way about trees. We had one go during an ice storm (at our old house). I was so upset.
I'm just glad no-one was standing underneath when it fell.

I live in fear of the trees at our back fence. They're gum trees, and they are notorious for dropping big limbs for absolutely no reason (malificent things!)
Janet said…
Found your blog when I was trolling on HBM's...

I had to comment for I live in fear of what happened in your yard. We have six majestic maples lining the front and side of our property. Another six towering pines run down the left hand side. They must be at least 75 years old and they keep our house cool in summer, make a beautiful sound when the wind blows, and, generally, just are a beautiful sight.

Sorry you lost them.
Snoskred said…
You might want to check if this is covered under your home insurance, because it is storm damage. Though it did not damage your house, you still have to pay money to have it removed and some insurance companies cover this under their policy.

The fence should be covered under the home insurance - it would be over here. It's worth getting out the policy to check - some not nice insurance companies won't tell you if you call.

I used to work for an insurance company, can you tell? ;)

You could try getting in touch with a firewood place and see if they will cut it up and take the wood away to sell at a much lesser cost or even for free - often they do that over here. The other option is to put an ad in the local paper or classifieds and offer the firewood free if they come and cut it up and remove it - you never know until you try. Over here in Australia people go out in the woods to cut up fallen trees in order not to have to pay for firewood, and maybe someone with a wood stove will be willing to do that where you are, too.

I echo the others - I'm glad nobody was hurt and I can understand why you're mourning the loss. I've planted a lot of trees at the places we've lived over the years and I miss them.

Recently a motorcyclist was killed by a falling branch in one of the places near here where there's a lot of big trees by the side of the road. The Road Traffic Authority now plan to cut down a lot of nearby trees, which has upset the greenies who live nearby - however these trees are very dangerous because they are infested with diseases which is why the branch fell off and why they need to be cut down. Many of these trees have a number of roadside shrines (crosses, flowers) on them to the people who have been killed by running into them.

S said…
Oh, no. I'm sorry, Julie. I absolutely understand mourning a tree.
Julie Pippert said…
And more thanks!

I am getting by with the help of my friends---who are helping me dispose of the tree and even replace it!

Next task: dig and build retention pond to drain water away from trees...
Christine said…
oh honey! i would cry too. that is horribly sad. that poor tree,. poor you.
preTzel said…
Wow, what a gorgeous tree it was. The weather is so damn wierd, very wierd. I'm sorry it's gone. :(

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