13. A Lotta Big Trees

We have five very tall trees around the cottage. By very tall I mean 50 feet or more. One of them, a sycamore, is about 5 feet from the front porch. WAY too close! If it fell, that tree would do serious damage.

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When the house insurance guy came to survey the house, his first comment was, “Uh, you’ve got a lotta big trees here.”

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The sycamore is a lovely tree, don’t misunderstand me, but it is a litterbug extraordinaire. Little twigs, pieces of bark, big dried leaves, and stickery sycamore pods all litter the front yard and porch in all seasons. I think cleaning up after it will get old fast.

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The prettiest (and furthest away from the house) is the catalpa. The bees were thick around it when it bloomed in mid-June. (Has anyone heard of catalpa honey?) Now in mid-July its long green bean-like seed pods are just starting to grow. The catalpa’s circumference is eleven feet around. When the furnace guy was here last fall, he spent some time admiring it. “You just usually don’t see catalpas that are that big,” he told us. It turns out he is a chain saw wood carver and catalpa wood is his favorite wood to use for his hobby. Near the catalpa is the original well for the house. There used to be a tall hand pump on the well and I remember Aunt Mary showing me how to get water from it. It’s well down on the priority list, but we’d both like to find another old hand pump for it.

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The large maple on the other side of the house is at the top of the slope going to the back yard. Its limbs stretch out over the roof of the garage bedroom. We’ve contemplated taking it down to put a real garage there. Of all the trees, it is most likely to fall down the hill and spare the house. But it still has some mighty big limbs over the roof.

The oak tree next to it could have been the stateliest tree in the yard, but it had the bad fate to be too close to the electric wires. The electric company has done their pruning on it, and it will never be the beautiful oak it should be. (That is, the entire middle of the tree is gone!) It does have one lovely horizontal limb though, which is perfect for a swing… Olivia and Olivier love it, and so do we!

The maple tree in the middle of the gazebo has its own special history. It was a big tree when I was a little girl. The tree is close to the road and provided the perfect shade for bushels of apples for sale. Pa built a hexagonal set of bleachers for the apples around the tree, then roof joists were nailed to the tree about twelve feet up. People just pulled into the yard to buy apples, and Aunt Mary would hurry out of her country kitchen in her full apron to take their money and help pour the apples into sacks. The biggest and best apples were on the top bleachers. We would run up and down the levels and around through the baskets. Pa hardly ever yelled at us. He was the only one who had nicknames for us — we were Cee, Dee, and Fancy. The most he ever said to correct me was, “Now Cee…”

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Joe and Clara enclosed it in the seventies and called it the Gazebo. I think it must have stunted the tree’s growth, because what was a big tree fifty years ago, is still just a big tree. It is locally famous though. When we tell people where we live, they say, “Oh, is that the place with the tree growing out of the garage?” Makes it difficult to park cars inside…

The roof and joists need repairing; if anyone has any great ideas for a building with a giant tree in the middle, don’t keep it to yourself!

 

I love these tall trees — they give us shade, keep us cool, bring the birds and their songs — but I gotta say that the winds on this ridge make me nervous…

 

One thought on “13. A Lotta Big Trees

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