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Nothing So Poetic as a Tree, Thanks to Joyce Kilmer



So, when is Arbor Day? and does anyone still celebrate it?

Innumerable victims of Hurricane Irene around New England are a variety of trees. Most of the toppled arbor victims are not old, but just unlucky in the path of a strong gust. Big trees, older trees, can withstand the tropical force. Most medium-sized trees out in the open were hit hard.

And so it is with sadness that we saw an ancillary victim of Irene, a tree that suffered collateral damage. The hurricane itself did not take down one tree, but hiding in the brush could no longer save it from the time that had come.

When a tree came down in the front yard, no more than forty years of age, planted there in 1973 for its decorative red leaves, the tree landscapers noticed the dead tree still standing against a chain link fence. It had survived Irene, mainly because it was leaf-less.

It has been there for close to 100 years, now stripped off bark for a dozen years. It has not had leaves for as long as anyone can remember. As a result, it is impossible to tell what kind of tree it once was.

Yes, like some ghostly vampire, it has withstood wind and winter, hurricane and earthquake. Then, it was spotted, a danger yet to come. 

They had to take it down.

The show of force to dismantle and remove the tree proved that theater is not dead. The event brought a cast of chip shredding machines and their handlers. It bought out neighbors to watch the spectacle.

One man hoisted up to the top in a small basket, hooking a large rope around the top. The tree was sliced with power saws across its broad trunk and dangled freely in the wind, lowered and butchered in ten minutes.  

There was no discernible interior rot.

Its limbs went into the shredder and whirled to the remnants of chips. It was gone soon, and so were its executioners, or perhaps they were merely its undertakers.

There is nothing now where the bare bones of a once majestic tree once graced an area. There are no roadside memorials for fallen trees.


 William Russo usually writes about movies, sports, and seldom about trees. Russo's books include THINKER'S DAMN: AUDIE MURPHY AND VIETNAM, BOOTH AND OSWALD, THE NEXT JAMES DEAN, and RIDING JAMES KIRKWOOD'S PONY. All are available in print and in e-book format.



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