Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thoughts on Trees

I drove by the "big house" last Thursday. I try to go down the street every once in awhile just to see how it's holding up. It looks a bit frayed around the edges but it's mostly in good shape. Many of the trees that used to be on the street have died and have been taken down, although the big tree in front of the house is still there. The garage door was open and it didn't look as big as I remembered it.

I have toyed with the idea of writing down a bit of the history of the house and sending it to the current owners. It's easy to find out who is living there because of the auditor's real estate site. I keep thinking that they wouldn't be interested, although I'm sure that's not the case at all.

I drove past our old street the other day and was shocked to see that it's actually turning into a tree-lined street! The trees that were planted by the city when I was young are now 50 years old, and the trees that were small when I was small are now really large. It is quite shocking and gives quite a different appearance to the street.

When I was young the street was coated with tar and had huge ruts along the side. I remember the large puddles left after the rain. Our driveway was gravel and wasn't paved on the apron part until years later. The street was paved when I was in grade school and it made a TON of difference in the appearance of everything. All the other side streets to either side of us were paved - not sure why ours was not.

The street one block over used to have an archway of Dutch elms. - this was an absolutely beautiful tree and it's now dead, apparently. This is what happened to all of Toledo.

I remember looking up at them when I was little and marveling at the beauty of the trees. There will never be a more beautiful tree, in my opinion, than these giant wonders. Sadly, the terrible Dutch Elm Disease hit the country in the mid-50's, and the trees all over our neighborhood died one by one and had to be removed. The trees were replaced, and now this street is again canopied, but it is not the same as the arched cathedral of my memories.

I remember being able to look out our front door and being able to see the arch of a beautiful elm a block away. I always loved the way it looked. It too was a victim of Dutch elm, and that tree disappeared into my memory.

I have always felt very emotional about trees. I feel infinitely sad when a tree dies, and very angry when a tree is cut down that is not dead. The city planted a little maple in front of our house when I was growing up. That tree is huge now. Mom tried to grow a birch in our yard, but sadly we are too far south for this type of tree and it became diseased and died. There are a few birches scattered around the south end, but they struggle. I remember there was a huge gorgeous one on Glanzman Rd. by the school. When they tore the school down to make way for the high school they had to remove the tree to widen the street and create the driveway that is on the side of the school. This was such a loss to me. I suppose it was necessary, but there should have been some way to go around it. Sadly, planners back then didn't think of those things. They seem to think of it more now.

There was a large silver maple in front of the big house. Grandpa used to rail against this tree because it dropped tons of those ugly helicopter seeds. It is still there. There was a big sycamore in front of my other grandma's house - the type of tree where the bark came off in pieces. Grandpa didn't like that one either - a "dirty" tree, but it provided shade, and is probably still there, too. I'll have to make a trip over there sometime, although the neighborhood now isn't particularly safe or attractive, and it would have to be done during daylight.

The hospital I used to work at had a walkway of some sort of olive tree (I think - not the Mediterranean type but an ornamental) that had dense leaves. They lined the walkway out to the parking garage. It was beautiful to walk under the shade in the afternoon, and under the canopy at night. The birds loved the trees - which is why the hospital cut them down. Someone complained about the bird do (although I never got hit by any of it all the time I worked there). I came into work one day and they were gone. I was very nearly physically ill, and it still brings tears to my eyes to believe that someone could do such a thing. I was absolutely outraged. They replaced the trees with a covered canvas canopy. It's not the same, but I guess it's cheaper and requires less maintenance. There was also a large sycamore at the corner of one of the surface parking lots that had to have been at least 50 feet high. I have a picture of it in one of my albums that unfortunately did not do this tree justice. When they enlarged the parking lot that also got cut down. Idiots!

So, Oliver, you now know one of the things that makes your grandmother angry......