Saturday, July 21, 2012

What difference does one tree make?

There is a older white home sitting off from a road that I routinely travel.  This house had a beautiful and sizable red maple tree in it's front yard.  This tree was in fact the primary thing that you noticed when you looked at this house.  In the summer, this house was hidden behind a beautiful crown of green leaves and cooling shade.  In the fall, the tree was a blaze of red that set off the white of the house and the green of it's roof.  In the winter, the bare branches of the tree added character to the otherwise simple farmhouse.

Last year a thunderstorm tore out a sizable branch of the tree.  The tree was still alive and healthy and it still provided a great front for the house, but the passerby also was drawn to the view of the hole in the side of the tree.  The tree was obviously hollow and was visibly disfigured.

Last week another thunderstorm attacked the tree.  This time, the remaining crown was broken off and lay like a fallen soldier in the front yard.  A couple of days later, the trunk was cut at the base and the remains of the tree were carted off.

Now the house is sitting alone and bare.  No tree is in the front yard and the house is all that you see.  Now it is obvious that the white house is run-down and in need of repair.  There are no leaves to frame the house and there is nothing to shade it in the summer.  In one brief moment, the property lost it's character, a major source of climatic buffering and a valuable asset.  I cannot help but notice the radical change from beautiful and shady to open, old and run-down.

People often do not realize the importance of trees in their lives and on their land.  The people who owned this house could have avoided the sudden loss of property value and the other benefits of this tree if they had just planted a couple of additional trees near this one a few years ago - or even a year ago, when the branch was broken off.  It would have given them some growing time while allowing the old tree to protect the new young trees as they grew.  It is important to realize that nothing living is permanent and no tree will live forever.


  1. This was beautiful, Alison! I feel sad for the house, for the lovely tree...and thankful for the reminder to enjoy and appreciate the ones in my yard. Thank you.

  2. I know that tree, it has been a land mark for me also. When new pipes were put in all along the road, I think the roots must have injured. That tree has never been the same since. Thanks for the lovely prose about how important tress are to every landscape.

  3. How insightful! I am sure Daniel will enjoy your blog as much as I do. Thanks for this pleasure.